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Google considers building $600M data center in Becker, Minnesota

Other cities are in the running, but Xcel Energy is hopeful of landing the search engine giant.
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The city of Becker, Minnesota is being considered for the location of a new Google data center worth an estimated $600 million.

The plans were revealed in a regulatory filing by Xcel Energy submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that was made public on Thursday.

The data center would be built on 300 acres of land near Xcel's largest power plant in Minnesota – Sherco – where Xcel intends to retire two of its coal-fired generators as it transitions to zero-carbon electricity by 2050.

According to a letter submitted by Google that forms part of the filing, the project would see Google invest at least $600 million to build the center, creating 2,000 construction jobs over an 18-24 month period, as well as providing at least 50 tech jobs thereafter.

The center would store thousands of servers that allows the search engine giant to provide its internet services, with the servers storing and processing large amounts of data.

They require large amounts of power to keep the servers running and cool, and Xcel told the Star Tribune that it's committing to provide 100 percent renewable energy to the center, which is a key part of the deal for Google.

The two companies have been in talks about Google buying the land from Xcel after the utility announced plans to retire its coal generators in late 2015, the newspaper notes. 

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It was reported in December by Energy News that Xcel wanted to use the power generated from a 150-megawatt wind farm in South Dakota to offset the energy consumed by a then unnamed "commercial and industrial customer" in central Minnesota.

Xcel will take its third coal-powered generator at Sherco offline in 2040, following the shutdown of the other two generators in 2023 and 2026.

It plans to offset some of the lost power generation with a natural gas plant at the site, which it plans to open in 2027.

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