New data center proposals in Brandy Station and near the Town of Culpeper

The following text was sent out via email on May 30, 2024. Sign up for PEC email alerts →


aerial photo of fields, trees and large pond with mountains and sunset in background
Looking west over Brandy Station in Culpeper. Photo by Marco Sanchez/PEC.

Dear Supporter,

I am writing to bring your attention to two data center rezoning applications being considered by Culpeper County. We are urging folks to weigh in at upcoming public hearings on June 4 and 12 in person or via email. Please ask that each proposal be denied. We are alarmed that Culpeper might approve two more energy-intensive data center campuses on top of more than 10 million square feet of data center space approved by the County in the last few years.

In 2022, the AttoTek data center campus rezoning proposal was withdrawn due to fierce community opposition about the impacts the project would have on the historic and agricultural resources within Brandy Station. Shockingly, the same developer has proposed another, much larger data center in the exact same location within the historic, agricultural community of Brandy Station. This new application is called the XX Tech Park, by Culpeper Acquisitions LLC. The County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the XX Tech Park on Wednesday, June 12. This proposal would have enormous impacts on the immediate community and County as a whole, and we need your support — both at this hearing and in spreading the word about this threat. More info below.

The second data center application, from Red Ace Capital Management, is coming before the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing on Tuesday, June 4. This data center campus at Keyser Farm would be located just east of town at the corner of McDevitt Drive and Nalles Mill Rd. It’s a smaller proposal in a more appropriate area, but with so many data centers already approved and waiting to be built, we urge the County to slow down and think about the increasing need for new energy infrastructure, added water usage, and the air quality impacts from the large number of back-up diesel generators that will be required. Please send an email to the Board of Supervisors asking them to deny this rezoning. More info below.

XX Tech Park: too large, too much power required, wrong location

The proposed XX Tech Park is in the middle of working farmland, close to the new state park set to open on July 1 and near other historic resources like the Brandy Station Graffiti house.

The proposed XX Tech Park rezoning could include over 4.6 million square feet of data centers — the equivalent of 25 Walmart Super Centers — in an area characterized by working farmland, less than a mile from the new State Park at Culpeper Battlefields set to open on July 1 and near the historic Brandy Station Graffiti House

Not only are there already eight data center campuses that have either been approved or built in Culpeper County, the proposed location is absolutely the wrong place for an industrial data center campus. Brandy Station is historically and agriculturally significant, the gateway to the county and home to many people who want to see its rural lands protected.

Brandy Station also lacks the key infrastructure necessary for data center development and would require a large substation and an imposing new transmission line through two to five miles of privately-owned rural lands. The data centers at XX Tech Park alone could require between 700 megawatts to 1.8 gigawatts of power. For comparison, all of Culpeper County currently uses about 240 megawatts of power.

Dominion Energy is obligated to provide power to a new data center once it’s approved, and the state can use eminent domain on Dominion’s behalf to claim right-of-way for new transmission lines through private property. Adding insult to injury, these transmission lines are collectively paid for by all Virginians with an electric bill, rather than by the data centers that require them. In other words, farmers, homeowners and residents are forced to subsidize this industry through electric bills and their land.

We explain this in more detail in our recent Op-Ed in the Culpeper Star Exponent and in our comments to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) regarding Dominion Energy’s Germana Project, the new transmission line and substation being built to serve Amazon’s Marvell data center campus.

Take Action

Please consider speaking at the public hearing on Wednesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. If you are unable to attend, I encourage you to submit written comments to the Planning Commission by emailing Culpeper’s planning director Sam McLearen at SMcLearen@culpepercounty.gov.

What’s next for the XX Tech Park? After the Planning Commission makes a recommendation for approval or denial, the application will move to the Board of Supervisors, which will likely hold its own public hearing later this summer.

Keyser Farm data center campus: another highly speculative rezoning next to town

satellite image of keyser farm property of trees and open space with digital illustration of 3 rectangles where data centers and a substation will be located
Illustrative Plan from Red Ace’s application. Red Ace has said the campus layout “may” be similar to this illustration.

This is a highly speculative rezoning proposed by Red Ace Capital Management. The developer will not commit to building heights, footprints, or locations, let alone the amount of water and electricity it plans to use — so how can the Board of Supervisors be expected to make an informed decision about how this project will help (or more likely harm) Culpeper? Other data center developers have readily provided this important information, so why can’t/won’t this one?

Although the Keyser Farm proposal is within the Culpeper Technology Zone, a tax incentive area designed to attract data center development, the Town Council and Board of Supervisors have already greenlit multiple other projects adding up to more than 10 million square feet of data center speculation.

Take Action

The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on the proposed Keyser Farm application on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Meeting Room 302 (North Main St., Culpeper, VA 22701).

If you are unable to speak at the public hearing, I encourage you to submit written comments to the Board.

Here you can see how the potential build-out of data centers in the Culpeper Technology Zone compares to the size of downtown. I put together this map based on illustrations, conceptual layouts and proposed site plans. As of May 17, none of these layouts are associated with an approved site plan. View larger version.

Even without the approval of Keyser Farm and XX Tech Park, the cumulative impact of these facilities could compromise Culpeper’s municipal water supply (since there are few restrictions on industrial water users) and will require new substations and transmission lines. We are also concerned that Culpeper is committing so much of its industrial land to a single industry.

The impacts of data center growth are not unique to Culpeper. All over Virginia, we are seeing the rampant industrialization of farms, forests, historic places and neighborhoods as localities approve data center after data center. This is despite their harmful and documented impacts on our communities, natural resources and the electrical grid. 

That’s why PEC and other organizations in the Data Center Reform Coalition are calling on local and state elected officials to pause all new data center approvals. We believe this pause is necessary until policies are in place to protect Virginia residents and ratepayers, our irreplaceable historic resources and our environment. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns about either of these proposals. I hope to see some of you at the upcoming public hearings.

Sincerely,

Sarah Parmelee
Land Use Field Representative, Culpeper County
sparmlee@pecva.org
(540) 347-2334 ext. 7045