$1.9 billion data center planned in northwest North Dakota

January 26, 2022 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday announced construction of a $1.9 billion data center located near the biggest city in the state’s oil-production region in northwest North Dakota.

The second-term Republican governor hailed the Atlas Power Data Center to be built by Missoula, Montana-based FX Solutions Inc. as one of the biggest such centers in the world, and one that will help diversify the economy in Williston-area that has suffered oil boom-bust cycles for decades.

Burgum, a wealthy former Microsoft executive, called data centers an “incredible forward- looking industry not dependent on the price of oil.”

Uses for data centers include the mining of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Cryptocurrency mining involves supercomputers to solve complex calculations needed to provide security for transactions in the digital currency.

The process requires vast amounts of power and generates much heat. Burgum said North Dakota is an ideal place for data centers because it has a reliable and affordable power supply, and a climate that lowers cooling costs.

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Burgum announced the project in Williston with local officials, FX Solutions President Richard Tabish and Kevin Washington, president of Atlas Power, which currently operates a 75-megawatt data center in Butte, Montana. The North Dakota data center owned by Atlas would be nearly tens times as large as the Montana facility, once completed.

Tabish said the project will require more than 100 workers during the two-year construction period and would create more than 30 permanent jobs.

Work started earlier this month on a site west of Williston. An inflatable dome will be erected over some of the site to allow for construction during winter months.

The first phase of the project will consist of 16 buildings, each longer than a football field, to house thousands of servers to conduct high-performance computing, officials said.

Financing for the project was not disclosed.

Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said no public money has been earmarked for the project, though it is expected to qualify for tax credits already given to agriculture, energy and other industries.