Midwest State Economic Development Reps Look Forward to CapRate’s Denver Data Center Summit
by Josh Anderson
DENVER, CO — CapRate is gearing up for the inaugural Greater Denver Data Center Summit on August 17 at the Denver Art Hotel. The same is true of many attendees, and CapRate decided to hone in on one interesting sector with a lot to gain from the event – local Departments of Economic Development seeking data center activity in their state.
For example, we spoke with Kylle Jordan, Economic Development Program Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, who is attending the Summit to promote her state’s tax incentive program for data centers. Because of that goal, Jordan says her perspective on the summit is a little different than that of a typical attendee.
“Our goal is to attract these types of facilities,” she begins. “Part of that is understanding what other states are doing and how we stack up. Denver is very close to Minneapolis, especially compared to other locations that CapRate holds summits in, such as Arizona. So it also will be really useful to hear from folks that are located in Denver to hear what are they doing, how is it working, and what best practices are they employing?”
Jordan also looks forward to meeting with data center operators. “Who’s there? Are they looking to expand?” she asks. “People Operators in Ashburn aren’t necessarily interested in edge markets, but if a firm is already in a place like Denver, they’re right there with us.” She also is curious as to how improving access to broadband internet in households and businesses impacts data center site selection..
Jordan will be joined by a marketing partnership contingent, composed of representatives from Minnesota utilities as well as engineering firms. “We want to have shovel ready sites for data centers. If any firms want to know more, we’ll have the full package deal in terms of representation at this summit,” says Jordan.
Moving a bit closer to the Mountain West, David Bartholomai, an Economic Development Consultant at the State of Nebraska, will also attend the Colorado summit. He is excited about the industry right now, but is most keen on figuring out how his home region can meet the needs of the ever-changing market.
“In Nebraska, we’re trying to figure out where we fit, and our strength lies in the HyperScale market,” says Bartholomai. “We want to make sure we also develop a good Edge market, so that we have the right capacity to serve our local population. We also want to attract wholesale colocation as well.” Bartholomai (and by extension, Nebraska’s approach) is likely shared with that of similar and neighboring states, from Colorado to Indiana.
In terms of content, Bartholomai is looking forward to discussing renewable energy. “The big companies like Facebook and Yahoo and Google (all of which have a presence the Omaha area) are way into renewable energy,” he says. “Using renewable energy is not only good for the environment, it’s good business. Both Omaha Public Power District and Nebraska Public Power have established tariffs that take a lot of risk out of varying electricity costs.”
Bartholomai is referring to OPPD’s plan to deliver 100% renewable energy at around 5 cents per KWHour. So that means if a company plays it safe in the energy market, they can look at that rate as being locked in. “Basically, OPPD is buying energy at the same rate the customer is selling energy into the market creating a hedge.”
OPPD’s website says that “To qualify for this rate, a customer must be large enough to meet certain criteria, such as requiring a minimum of 20 megawatts (MW) of demand for 161-kilovolt (kV) service and 200 MW of demand for 345-kV service. A ramp-up period of 18 months would be allowed before that minimum usage requirement kicks in. A customer also needs to own or acquire its own substation. OPPD will be a fully integrated service partner, managing the process and providing service.” In return, customers can procure 100% renewable energy and access the market for the energy component of their bill, to meet specific energy needs through renewable resources. NPPD has a similar plan in place.
All said, Nebraska and Minnesota aren’t the only states vying for big firms. CapRate has explored this topic across various regions in the U.S., most notably in the Pacific Northwest. However, the Denver summit is an inaugural event, and we’re looking forward to kicking off this conversation August 17.