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Meta slows work on Kuna project. Says redesign for AI underway: ‘we remain committed’

The social media giant behind Facebook says it’s still steaming ahead on a data center in Kuna, just with a redesign that is slowing construction. 

On Tuesday, Meta spokesperson Stacey Yip told BoiseDev the company is still planning on building a data center on the far eastern edge of Kuna and denied any rumors of the project ending. She said the company plans to update the design to accommodate the capacity for artificial intelligence.

“In order to best serve our needs for the future, we have decided to change the design of our data center in Kuna, which may result in a temporary construction slowdown while we update our plans,” Yip wrote in an email, attributing the statement to Meta. “We remain committed to this community, our local stakeholders, and our supply chain partners. We will work closely with our stakeholders to transition this project design as efficiently as possible.”

When asked if the company was ending work with its subcontractors at the site near the intersection of Cole and Kuna Mora roads, Yip acknowledged work had slowed down, but did not provide any details on how many subcontractors, if any, had been let go. 

“Work on the site, such as rock crushing and excavating, will continue for the foreseeable future,” she wrote. “We are working closely with our general contractor to make this transition as efficient as possible. We hope to ramp this project back up as soon as our new design is ready.”

Kuna’s Economic Development Director Morgan Treasure confirmed the details Meta provided to BoiseDev and said the company is still in the early stages of construction.

“They’ve been great partners and we love having them here,” she said.

Tech uncertainty rocking Meta

Meta Kuna Idaho
Proposed data center for Meta Platforms Inc. in Kuna, Idaho. Via Meta

Meta is one of several technology companies that recently announced major layoffs. 

At the beginning of November, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg laid off 13% of the company’s workforce totaling 11,000 workers. The company also opted to continue a hiring freeze through the first quarter of 2023. 

The AI-focused redesign, which is part of the Kuna project, was behind the cancellation of two other data centers in the United States, one in Alabama and the other in Texas, according to reporting from Data Center Dynamics. This is part of a broader company initiative to rework 11 projects around the world with major redesigns to accommodate artificial intelligence. 

This comes as Meta has put significant resources into what is known as the metaverse, a virtual world users can access and visit using headsets like the company’s Meta Quest 2. The investment cost Meta $9.4 billion so far in 2022, CNBC reported. The push toward the Metaverse is expected to continue losing the company money in the coming years. 

Water plans for project still unknown 

Data centers have made headlines in recent years for their heavy water usage to keep servers cool. 

When Meta announced its plans to come to Kuna, the company said it planned to “add more water than we consume” to the Treasure Valley’s watershed with no details on its plans. The company said it is working to be water neutral by 2030 and pointed to several water projects, like wetlands restoration in Texas and efforts to restore water levels in Arizona’s Lake Mead. 

But, Yip said the company will not announce how much water it plans to use at the Kuna facility until it is completed. 

“We disclose the water withdrawal for our facilities on an annual basis, along with our progress towards our 2030 water-positive goal, in our annual Sustainability Report,” she said. “We will share our water use for this site once it’s operational, and we are committed to restoring more water than we consume into local watersheds.”

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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