CASPER — During a special meeting yesterday, the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) moved forward a $1.5 million Community Readiness grant request through the city of Cheyenne to help Microsoft set up its intriguing "DataPlant."
The DataPlant will capture biogas from the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility as part of a "demonstration project" to power fuel cells which will in turn power a bank of servers Microsoft would bring in. After WBC approval, the grant is still pending approval from the State Loan and Investment Board, headed by Gov. Matt Mead.
"They're bringing together fuel cell technology, digital technology and renewable energy and bio-energy or alternative energy all into one place," Randy Bruns, CEO of Cheyenne LEADS told the Business Report
Oct. 25. "We're really set up very well for it because the bio-digesters have been out there for years producing methane but a lot of that gas is just flared off."
If the project moves forward, it will be Microsoft's second investment within Wyoming within a year after its $112 million data center
began construction earlier this year.
The WBC discussed a handful of other topics during its special teleconference meeting as well. Venture capitalists seeking certification through the WBC will soon have to pay nearly 42 percent more annually. Certification will jump from about $114,000 to nearly $162,000 for the program, which began in January 2011.The fees are being raised to "match the 2013 fiscal budget plus an outstanding receivable" from 2012.
The board also approved a $20 million State Treasurer Industrial Development Bond for the development of an in-situ uranium mining facility
in Johnson and Campbell Counties by Uranerz Energy Corp. According to WBC documentation, the bond financing will help to build a plant, purchase equipment and "drill the initial injection and recovery wellfield." Total construction costs will tally to more than $35 million.
Finally, the board voted to change some conditions on the original recommendation for Casper's Parkway Plaza's $3.93 million bond
approval to purchase and renovate the property. Most notably, the council waived a $244,000 deposit at closing because there appears to be adequate cash-flow to service the debt.
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