Northern Virginia: Energy strategy talks in Loudoun as data centers continue to dominate

Sep 30, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

On Wednesday, Loudoun county supervisors came together to discuss the county's energy strategy. This discussion has come following a surge of data centers in the area over the past 15 years. The county's "Data Center Alley" is pinned as the world's largest concentration of data centers, totalling 25 million sqft currently in operation.

At the meeting, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Senior Environmental Planner Maia Davis, COG Climate, Energy and Air Program Director Jeffrey King, and energy expert Steve Walz discussed the current situation in the county.

The meeting revealed some concerning data around the county's greenhouse gas emission, which has reportedly grown from 3.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2005 to nearly 6.3 million metric tons in 2018. Equally, energy usage was explained to have risen dramatically, too. Commercial energy usage has increased, from 2 million megawatt-hours (2005) to exceed 11 million megawatt-hours last year.

Of course, data centers guzzle huge amounts of energy and are significant contributors here. That said, as reported by Loudoun Now, there are questions from supervisors around how much regulation should be applied to the sector, considering the vast amount of revenue generated by them.

Regarding strategies to tackle climate change, Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) said: "I don't think [we have] just have an opportunity to do something here in Loudoun County about it, I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to do something about it. Because this is a climate crisis based on energy emissions, and Loudoun County is through the roof right now."

Going forward, the county will continue their research regarding energy strategies and come back to the Board of Supervisors midway through next year.

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