Northern Virginia, Data Center Capital, Needs More Power


Loudoun County is the data center capital of the known universe,
and while the data center boom has certainly improved the county’s bottom
, it has also dramatically increased the demand for

Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) — one of two power providers in
Loudoun, along with the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, or
NOVEC — has filed an application to build two substations near the
intersection of Waxpool Road and Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn,
aka data center alley.

“Over the last decade, this overall area of Loudoun has
experienced not only an increase in data centers and high-tech
businesses, but also a rise in residential units, commercial
offices, and retail centers,” Dominion writes in its application.
“Further, Loudoun’s unique data center industry has substantial and
individualized power needs.”

“Substantial” is an understatement. Dominion continues: A
typical data center consumes “about the same amount of power as
7,500 residential households and requires a more reliable power
source.” The forecasted demand in the area of these two proposed
substations alone — named “Cumulus” and “Nimbus” by Dominion — is
equivalent to that of approximately 120,000 homes.

The two proposed 230-kilovolt switching stations will be
developed with dedicated circuits for future data center customers.
Neither are allowed to be within 1,200 feet of the Waxpool-Parkway

Dominion operates 15 substations in Loudoun, while NOVEC
operates 16 — three of which serve data centers. NOVEC is
constructing, or ready to construct, four more substations for data
centers alone, a spokeswoman said.

According to the county, 13 of the 31 total existing
substations, or 41 percent, have been constructed in the last
decade, coinciding with the data center boom. Three substations are
located within a mile of data centers.

There are 100-plus data centers operating in Loudoun now,
Loudoun County Economic Development confirms, with 4.5 million
square feet of additional centers in the pipeline. Their power
demand, based on Dominion’s report, is equal to that of some
750,000 homes.

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