In 2010, Craig Harrison, founder of the Harrison Resource Corporation, purchased a desolate section of land in Colorado. Originally, he planned to use the area for oil or gas wells, according to the Denver Post. However, upon discovering the land’s rich natural gas and fiber optic infrastructure, Harrison made different plans for the rural property.
Although the Denver Post reported that developers have yet to break ground in the Weld County land, Harrison is still hopeful that the data center real estate will become a “technology Mecca.” Harrison said that the area hasn’t gone unnoticed, and he has had conversations with 10 Fortune 50 companies and 15 Fortune 100 companies.
Although Harrison said he can’t name which organizations have shown interest in the site, analysts stated the site could be attractive for businesses like Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft or federal agencies, according to the Post.
Harrison also stated that he envisions seven data centers within the area, which the company is calling the Niobrara Data Center Energy Park.
According to the company’s website, the corporation has detailed plans laid out for the site, including three cloud data centers. The company will also utilize a variety of power sources, including on-site transmission lines, the existing Poudre Valley rural Electric Association substation, clean natural gas power and the Cheyenne gas hub, where up to 7 percent of the gas supply travels. Additionally, the proposed site layout contains microgrid power, including a new smart grid and substation, and would be the largest proposed microgrid in the world.
The Niobrara Data Center Energy Park will also make use of renewable power sources, stated the website. The company’s plans stated that site zoning allows for up to 50 MW of solar energy and 50 MW of fuel cells. In addition, a nearby location boasts a 30 MW wind farm, which the energy park will utilize.
The location has other on-site advantages, which incorporate fiber connections, as well as its own water and natural gas supply. Harrison told the Denver Post that the site’s “killer application” is clients’ ability to utilize on-site energy resources.
“Traditionally, data centers just take power from the grid, and they need a lot of backup generation,” said data center expert Jeff Cross, according to the news source. “But if you produce your own power, you don’t need all of that extra infrastructure. Plus, you always have the grid to fall back on.”
Data center tax incentives
The Colorado data center site has taxation benefits for the involved companies, according to Niobrara’s website. The location is exempt from county and municipal sales and use taxes, as well as energy franchise taxes, so businesses would only have to factor in the state tax of 2.9 percent.
Additionally, the plans stated that House Bill 1029 approves a 100 percent abatement for county and special district property tax for 10 years, which could be applicable for data center operators and any other expanding or relocating business.
Once up and running, the site could create up to 295 jobs, with annual wages at $75,600 and tax revenue that could total $427 million, according to the Post.