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Google Eyes $600 Million Becker, Minnesota, Data Center

Google is reportedly interested in building a $600 million data center, 46 miles northwest of Minneapolis in Becker, Sherburne County, Minnesota.

Xcel Energy, a utility serving more than 3.3 million electric customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, wants to sell property that currently houses its coal-based power generating plant to Google for its data center.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, Xcel filed papers with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that said it has been working for two years with the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development, the county, the city of Becker and several other stakeholders on the project.

MPR reported the Google project would help transition Xcel and the surrounding area from reliance on the Sherco coal-fired power plant at the Sherburne County Generating Station.

"By locating there, this project becomes part of the company's 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 company's customers," according to Xcel Energy's filing. "This is particularly true given the proposed data center's unique electric service needs and Sherco's robust infrastructure."

Shane Delaney, Director of Communications at Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, told MPR, the data center is expected to create 50 permanent jobs.

He said, while this is the first step, "demand for data storage really does continue to rise globally and Minnesota is already home to a number of data centers for various companies," Delaney said.

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 center to come from renewable sources.

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