Data Centers & Energy Demand

Virginia is undergoing a massive economic, technological, and environmental transformation, all centered around the activities of one industry: data centers.

The explosive growth of the data center industry represents a major challenge to achieving a clean energy future in Virginia. Data center development in Northern Virginia has been accelerating for years, with a higher concentration in Loudoun County than anywhere else in the world. As of late 2022, data centers accounted for 21% of Dominion Energy’s electricity sales [pg 26] in Virginia. In fact, data centers represent the only growing sector [pg 5] of electricity demand in Virginia, and that demand growth is projected to more than double peak load by 2040 [pg 28]. 

Disturbingly, Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan filed in 2023 points to higher-than-anticipated load growth from data centers as the rationale for leaving in place existing fossil-fuel generation and pursuing an “all of the above” energy strategy moving forward.

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Virginia’s current approach is unsustainable.

The sheer number and scale of Virginia data center proposals and the accumulation of so many data centers in such a relatively small area has led to a severely constrained electric grid and increased reliance on polluting backup diesel generators. As new data centers go in and Dominion Energy builds out the grid to accommodate the likes of Amazon Web Services and others in the industry, local residents and communities are left wondering: who is going to foot the bill and what are the implications for our air quality, climate goals, water resources, health and the environment?

While many data centers make clean energy and sustainability commitments, there is no way to clearly evaluate these claims due to non-disclosure agreements and general secrecy around the industry. What we do know is this: increasingly, the public is being asked to subsidize new transmission infrastructure and compromise on Virginia’s clean energy and conservation goals in order to meet the massive electricity demand caused by one private industry.

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It’s time to push back and ask tough questions.

Please use this letter to ask your elected officials in the Virginia General Assembly to address data center impacts. View data center legislation from 2024

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Data Center and Transmission Line Updates

Amazon filed an application for a data center with the Town of Warrenton; Dominion is moving forward with public meetings …
Prince William County Considers Land Use Changes That Encourage Sprawl

Prince William County Considers Land Use Changes That Encourage Sprawl

Prince William County is evaluating three different land use changes that would introduce industrial and residential sprawl into the Rural Crescent, to the detriment of water quality, wildlife habitat, agriculture, historic resources, tourism and the …
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True North Developer Requests Changes

The proffer adjustments would help limit harm to a globally-rare ecological community called the Northern Piedmont Mafic Barren …
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Amazon Data Center Would Force New Transmission Line to Warrenton

Dominion Energy says it would be required to build new 230-kV transmission lines if the Amazon data center on Blackwell Rd in Warrenton moves forward …
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Data Center Proposed in Historic Stevensburg

I am reaching out to you today about a proposal to rezone nearly 250 acres of agricultural land to light industrial in order to allow the construction of a massive 427,000 square foot data center …
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National Parks, Rural Prince William Under Threat

As PEC’s deputy director of land use, I am writing to let you know about several local issues that have both regional and national implications. Put simply, the rural area of Prince William County, also …
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Why True North Data is Worse than Current Zoning

Last week I wrote a post about Public Drinking Water Supply and the Loudoun Transition Area, but this time, I want to drill down into a specific development proposal that would impact water quality: the …
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True North Data – Wrong Direction for Loudoun

True North Data is being proposed on an environmentally sensitive site in Loudoun’s Transition Policy Area. At the same time, the Board of Supervisors is asking citizens what they would like for that area’s future …