Data Centers & Energy Demand

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.

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.

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

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Map showing cluster of proposed, approved and existing data centers in downtown Culpeper.

Updates on the Copper Ridge Data Center Campus proposal

On Thursday, June 29, the Town Planning Commission held a nearly two-hour-long work session reviewing new documents from the Copper Ridge Data Center Campus and questioning the applicant …
Yet Another Data Center in Culpeper?

Yet Another Data Center in Culpeper?

The Culpeper Town Planning Commission is holding a work session on the Copper Ridge application on June 29 at 9 a.m …
Meet Ashish Kapoor, Senior Energy & Climate Policy Analyst

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Summer 2023 Piedmont View

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engineering map of amazon data center site plan in warrenton virginia

Amazon Site Development Plan / Zoning Amendment on Overhead Power Lines

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Stevensburg residents shape their future

Stevensburg residents shape their future

With the help of local community leaders and organizations, PEC informed the residents of Stevensburg and Brandy Station about the potential impacts of the AttoTek Data Center campus …
aerial view of a few huge data center buildings between a set of apartments and public trail

Questions Swirl Around Data Centers – How Many, Where and at What Cost?

Although DEQ’s proposed variance for data center diesel generator has been pulled, the underlying issue remains: Is this continued boom in data center development sustainable? …
Piedmont Environmental Council Statement on Department of Environmental Quality Variance Withdrawal

Piedmont Environmental Council Statement on Department of Environmental Quality Variance Withdrawal

The Virginia Department of Environmental Equality’s withdrawal of its proposed variance that would have allowed data centers to circumvent Virginia’s air pollution control regulations limiting the use of heavily polluting, industrial sized, emergency diesel generators …
data center presentation title slide

PEC Presentation on Data Centers & Potential Reliance on Backup Diesel Generators

On March 28, 2023, The Piedmont Environmental Council hosted a local information session in Loudoun County about a variance being proposed by The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to allow Loudoun data centers to use …