Xcel Energy is planning to sell more land in the city of Becker, Minnesota, for a data center project. The new project is separate from a long-planned facility Google is developing on nearby land also owned by Xcel.

The Star Tribune reports a company using the name Elk River Technologies is buying 348 acres of land from Xcel Energy near its Sherburne County Generating Station (also known as Sherco) with plans to build a $1 billion data center.

Sherburne County Generating Station Sherco Becker Minnesota - Wikipedia via Mulad.jpg
Sherburne County Generating Station – Wikipedia via Mulad

Xcel last week filed a petition with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve selling 348 acres to Elk River Technologies LLC. Minnesota corporate records show that company was incorporated in May but offer little more information. Becker City Administrator Greg Lerud told the publication he didn’t know who's behind the project.

The latest data center would have 100 full-time employees and would create more than 1,200 building trades jobs, Xcel told the Star Tribune. Xcel offered no other details about the data center, except to say it's not a cryptocurrency mining project.

"It's a pretty big deal for Xcel, and it is a big economic development project [for the area]," said Sherburne County Administrator Bruce Messelt.

Elk River Technologies has an option to buy the land through Jan. 21, 2023, but the option can be extended three times through July 21, 2024. The sale price is $7.7 million, and Xcel's profit would be $7.5 million given the land's low book value, the PUC filing said.

The Minneapolis-based utility plans to close three big coal-fired generators at Sherco by 2030. First built in 1976, the coal-powered plant has a capacity of up to 2,238MW and is the largest power plant in the state. The site was initially constructed by Northern States Power Company (NSP), now a subsidiary of Xcel Energy.

Xcel confirmed that the new data center would be separate from the Google project.

Google was first reported as looking at building a $600 million data center on land next to the power plant in 2019; the search giant plans to build a 375,000 square foot data center on roughly 300 acres of land owned by Xcel.

In February 2022, however, Xcel said during a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, that Google is still yet to buy the land from Xcel and the company’s option to buy the land expires at the end of this year. Both companies said the project was still on track, however.

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