The filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission says Xcel has been working for two years with the states Department of Employment and Economic Development, the county, the city of Becker and several other stakeholders on the project. It says the Google project would help transition Xcel and the surrounding area from reliance on the Sherco coal-fired power plant.
By locating there, this project becomes part of the companys journey to mindfully transition a coal-plant environment into a less carbon-intensive, business-oriented area that creates new jobs, results in significant private capital investment in the state and benefits all of the companys customers, according to Xcel Energys filing.
This is particularly true given the proposed data centers unique electric service needs and Shercos robust infrastructure.
In February 2017, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill allowing Xcel Energy to build a new natural gas power plant, also in Becker, to make up for some of the reduced capacity.
The state departments spokesperson Shane Delaney said the new Google data centre could create 2,000 construction jobs for 18 to 24 months, as well as 50 permanent jobs. Two of Shercos coal-fired generators are on track to retire soon as the state moves toward its renewable energy goals.
This is the first step here with the PUC, said Delaney. Demand for data storage really does continue to rise globally and Minnesota is already home to a number of data centres for various companies.
Becker Mayor Tracy Bertram told MPR News her city is one of handful of sites under consideration. She said the plan calls for most, if not all, the electricity for the data centre to come from renewable sources. The Sherco plant officially the Sherburne County Generating Station, is Minnesotas largest coal-fired power plant and Xcels largest power plant in the upper Midwest.
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