North Dakota county cuts power on $1.9B data center project

Dive Brief:

  • A $1.9 billion data center project in Williams County, North Dakota, hit a construction roadblock when the county commission unanimously voted Tuesday to cut the power on the site.
  • Mountrail-Williams Electric Co-op, however, will not comply with orders from the Williams County commission to disconnect the power on phase two of the project, KFGO reported. Instead, the electric utility company filed a petition for declaratory judgment, asking a court to clarify the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in the dispute. 
  • Atlas Power, a Butte, Montana-based data center operator, will own and operate the data center, while FX Solutions, another Montana-based company, is leading construction of the project.

Dive Insight:

The vote to shut off power follows several failures to meet building codes and zoning ordinances, according to the county commission meeting. Issues with final inspections, a buffer strip that hasn’t been completed and sound level complaints pushed the county commission to vote a pause on the Atlas Power data center project.

Total fines resulting from the violations have reached about $224,000, which the building team would need to pay in order to move forward with construction.

Dubi Cummings, spokesperson for Mountrail-Williams Electric Co-op, said the electric utility company is in the process of seeking the court’s determination on next steps. Neither FX Solutions nor Atlas Power could be reached for comment.

States across the nation are looking to take advantage of the data center construction boom, offering attractive tax incentive packages to lure projects to their area.

For example, North Dakota offers a sales tax exemption on IT equipment and computer software. A couple other attractive factors for data center operations include the state’s affordable power supply and its climate that lowers cooling costs, according to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Amazon recently announced plans to demolish nine Virginia office buildings to make way for four data center facilities, according to land applications in Loudoun County, Virginia. Google broke ground last month on two data center projects in central Ohio. Elsewhere, Microsoft announced plans to build a $1 billion, 315-acre data center campus in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

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