The explosive growth of the data center industry in Virginia is leading to enormous new power demands, a severely constrained electric grid, increasing reliance on polluting backup diesel generators and numerous impacts to residents and ratepayers alike.
How many data centers currently exist in Virginia? How many proposals are in the works? These are very good questions. It’s also very difficult to provide an answer given there is no publicly available dataset or state-level tracking of these facilities. In response, The Piedmont Environmental Council has pulled together this online web map showing existing data center facilities (that we are aware of), along with pending data center proposals we have found on various town and county websites, as well as through various news outlets.
This map is a work in progress. It is our best approximation given the information available and will change as more data centers are proposed and approved. If you are aware of an existing or proposed data center project missing from this map… please let us know! Email email@example.com with details about the project and provide a link to source material if possible.
Note: You can use the “Layer List” found on the upper right-hand side of the online map to see the key and toggle on additional layers of interest. Click on the red dot for each data center to see details.
The Commonwealth is already home to the largest and fastest-growing data center market in the world, housing nearly 50% of all U.S. facilities, and by some estimates, enabling up to 70% of the world’s internet activity. As of this printing, Loudoun boasts over 27 million square feet of data center space, and Prince William claims over 5 million square feet.
However, millions more square footage of data centers are either under construction or approved for development in both counties. The two largest data center campuses ever envisioned, a combined 22 million square feet of data center space, are proposed as part of the Prince William Digital Gateway project, in a rural part of Prince William County, next to Manassas National Battlefield Park. Large data center complexes are also proposed in King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, Culpeper, Orange, Mecklenburg, and Surry counties.
This unchecked data center growth carries an insatiable demand for massive energy upgrades, extensive acreage, and tremendous water intake, jeopardizing the state’s efforts to meet its climate goals, improve air and water quality, advance land conservation and protect national and state parks.
In response, PEC is working with local governments and residents in the Piedmont to improve local planning and zoning to protect communities, especially those most vulnerable to utility rate hikes, air pollution, and climate impacts, as well as our lands, waters and wildlife. We’ve formed a Virginia data center reform coalition to bring together local organizations with state and national partners, leading the charge on a legislative platform that quantifies the impacts of this data center buildout and shifts the cost burden away from Virginia ratepayers at large. This effort includes a comprehensive study of the impacts to our natural resources and a framework to avoid and, when necessary, mitigate those impacts.
We ask all of our readers to join us in contacting elected officials in every corner of the state to demand better oversight of the data center industry and ensure costs are borne more fairly by the industry. It is critical that the state get a handle on this issue before it is too late.