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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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Sen. Mathews & Rep. Mekeland statement on Sherco 3 retirement and proposed industrial park investment

Monday, May 20, 2019

ST. PAUL, MN – Following Xcel Energy’s announcement that the Sherco Unit 3 coal powerplant in Becker will close in 2030, Senator Andrew Mathews (R-Milaca) and Representative Shane Mekeland (R-Clear Lake) issued the following statement:

“Even after the buildout of a new Xcel Energy natural gas plant in Becker, the early closure of the Unit 3 coal plant will unfortunately lead to additional losses of local jobs and tax revenues,” said Senator Mathews, who serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee. “This is just another reason why investing in Becker’s business park and attracting local businesses to our community, such as Google, is a top priority.”

Sen. Mathews and Rep. Mekeland co-authored legislation to invest $20.1 million in infrastructure improvements for the Becker business park. The improvements are necessary to attract new businesses to the area, potentially including the proposed $600 million Google data center. If Becker is selected as the site for this center, this would be one of the largest private economic development projects in Minnesota in years, as the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) estimates the initial construction would bring nearly 2,000 jobs to Sherburne County and 1,300 additional jobs statewide. After completion, approximately 50 full-time tech jobs would be created.

“While discussions continue, Sen. Mathews and I are fully committed to supporting this project and making necessary infrastructure improvements to attract multiple businesses that want to make Sherburne County and our region home,” added Representative Mekeland.

Becker is in competition with other locations around the country, and the infrastructure improvements are essential to completing not only this project, but also attracting other businesses in the future. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission recently granted approval for the Google project.

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