The following text was sent out via email on November 9, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →
In September, I wrote to you about the explosive growth of Virginia’s data center industry and one of the side effects: a major push for new transmission lines.
Early that month, PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, published a list of 72 transmission projects proposed by utility companies to accommodate data center demand growth just through early 2022. In my message, I let readers know that PJM would select a subset of these projects to move forward at one of their meetings in October. Those selections have now been made.
These projects would have tremendous effects on individuals and communities, and represent the largest number of transmission projects under development in the Piedmont region at one time. And from what PJM says, if the energy demand continues to grow with more local approvals of data centers, this is only the beginning.
It’s also important to note that these projects are a part of just one “planning window” within PJM, specifically, “2022 Window 3.” PJM conducts 3-4 planning windows every year, and we expect previous proposals to come back and new projects to emerge as data center demand increases.
The local, regional and statewide impacts of the rapid growth of data centers are just beginning to play out, and our state has to get a handle on the cumulative impacts on our grid, water resources, air quality, and climate goals before it’s too late.
You’re Invited: Town Hall Meeting
We hope you’ll join us to learn about the potential for new transmission line projects proposed in Fauquier County and surrounding areas tied to the explosive growth of data centers in the region.
Monday, Nov. 13 @ 6 – 8 p.m.
Highland School – Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts
597 Broadview Ave., Warrenton, VA
Prince William Planning Commission Recommends Denial of Digital Gateway
This afternoon, following a county staff recommendation to deny and more than 20 straight hours of passionate public comment, the vast majority in opposition, Prince William County’s planning commission voted to recommend denial of the largest data center proposal in the world, the nearly three-gigawatt “Digital Gateway” project. Many of the commenters spoke directly to the potential transmission and climate impact of the proposal.
The Prince William Board of Supervisors is expected to make a final decision on the project on Dec. 12.
The data center buildout taking place now will necessitate huge amounts of new power generation plus associated transmission infrastructure, which will cost billions of dollars, all of which will be paid for by Virginia ratepayers (that’s anyone with an electric bill), amounting to a massive and unfair subsidy to one of the wealthiest industries in the word.
Virginia needs to get a handle on the size and scale and cost of this expansion, which is why PEC and our partners are asking the Virginia General Assembly to require transparency around energy usage, adopt changes to the electric utility rate structure so that the industry pays for the massive utility expansions its growth is driving, and authorize a comprehensive and independent statewide study of cumulative data center impacts on the grid, water resources, air quality, and land conservation goals of the state. Only after we know what we’re dealing with can we better plan and account for what’s coming next.
Director of Land Use
540-347-2334 ext. 7042