Regulators Ditch Plan That Would Have Allowed VA Data Centers To Rely On Generators To Conserve Power In Peak Months
Virginia law makers thought they had a plan to help save the power grid during peak months, but too many were opposed to the idea.
Don’t complain when your power goes out in Northern Virginia in the coming months as temperatures climb and AC units begin pulling more juice. Virginia regulators were considering a plan to allow data centers to run on diesel generators for the peak energy months to ease the burden on the grid, but the backlash from environmental groups, watchdogs and locals in the areas was too great.
Brian La Rue
| 4/21/2023 10:21:53 AM
VA’s environmental regulators dropped the proposal to allow Northern Virginia data centers to switch from the electrical grid and run on their diesel generators during power shortages after the idea ran into criticism.
On April 12, the VA Department of Environmental Quality issued a notice saying it is no longer pursuing the variance to state law that would have lifted restrictions on data center generators to allow them to run for longer periods of time than would normally be allowed.
The idea was opposed by many environmental groups, government watchdogs and citizens from Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax counties who were concerned about the large numbers of generators running for extended periods of time and what extra air pollution they might create.
“It's a remarkable outcome if you think of where we started,” said Chris Miller, president of the Piedmont Environmental Council. ““But what we're concerned about is, what they're trying to do is find a use for these generators, as opposed to what we really should be doing, which is finding a better source of backup energy and providing for a better planned energy system.”
The challenges to the power grid (similar to many metropolitan areas these days) in this area and the ideas of generator use to help the problem, came about as Dominion Energy, which serves more than 100 data centers in the local counties, said it was having transmission difficulties serving the region -- especially in and around the areas known as data center alley (west of Dulles International Airport which hosts many of the centers).
The generator switch over plan seemed like a good alternative to helping the region battle power grid issues, but as we all know-- you can never satisfy all people all of the time. Watch for this issue as a growing concern in your region too. As more and more electrical devices are added to the same old power grid, power outages caused by extreme weather, activists attacking substations, rolling blackouts to slow demand, and more, will continue to be a problem until the grid is updated and brought up to speed.
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