Dominion warns of power shortage for new Ashburn data centers

Dominion Energy has warned it may not be able to service new data center projects in Ashburn, facing challenges supplying that electricity along high-voltage lines.

This could delay bringing new data centers online by years, with millions or billions of dollars already being invested in new projects.

Loudoun’s executive director of economic development, Buddy Rizer, said his office is working to figure out what happened.

“We have been working closely with industry and the power company over the past two weeks to better understand the challenges in providing power to our data center companies that Dominion recently highlighted” , Rizer said. “The discussion is in its early stages, but we are monitoring the situation closely and working to assess the impact this may have on our business community and its impact on future growth.”

Data Center Coalition President Josh Levi said the industry is still trying to gather more information about the cause of the problem and its impacts.

“Access to reliable power has been a critical factor in the growth of the data center industry in Northern Virginia and Dominion has always been an important industry partner. The Data Center Coalition and its members are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to determine a solution that ensures continued power reliability for this critically important industry as it expands to meet growing demand for cloud and digital solutions from a wide range of customers,” Levi said in a written statement.

And in an interview, he said the news cast doubt on that planning – “it certainly raised a lot of questions about what it’s going to look like in the future.”

Power limitations in the world’s largest data center market could impact more than data centers and their customers. According to the Data Center Coalition, in 2021 data centers directly and indirectly supported more than 16,000 jobs in Loudoun. They are also a significant part of Loudoun’s tax base, which is expected to bring in $575 million in local tax revenue in fiscal year 2022.

Levi said the Data Center Coalition is proactively engaging with Dominion and other stakeholders to gather more information.

“The data center industry has grown significantly in Northern Virginia in recent years, and we have made significant investments to meet the growing demand for electricity. This growth is now accelerating, resulting in transmission constraints in a pocket of eastern Loudon County that primarily serves large customers,” said Dominion Media Relations Manager Aaron Ruby. “The constraints will not impact residential or small business customers. We are working quickly with industry, government and other stakeholders to ease the constraints. We are committed to seeking solutions that support our customers and the continued growth of the region.

This article was updated July 29 at 11:14 a.m. with a comment from Dominion.

Ramon J. Espinoza