Hyperscalers, Major Data Center Players Jointly Pen Letter Decrying Dominion Energy’s Plans for Fossil Fuels

RICHMOND, VA — A number of the largest companies in the data center and cloud computing sector have jointly penned a letter to Dominion Energy, urging the utility to forego its 2018 Integrated Resource Plan, which includes the decision to invest in natural gas infrastructure to power the numerous data centers located in Data Center Alley, Northern Virginia.

“As data center providers, customers, and colocation service providers with operations in Virginia, we prefer electricity that is generated by clean, renewable energy. We are writing to express concern regarding the re-stated intentions of energy providers to meet our energy demand with expensive fossil fuel projects,” they wrote. “Data centers power the modern economy. We provide the internet and cloud services that today’s businesses, consumers, nonprofits, and hospitals rely on to operate efficiently and with greater productivity.”

The letter continues, “It is estimated that as much as 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic flows through Virginia data centers. According to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the data center industry is responsible for creating more than $10.2 billion in annual economic output, 43,000 jobs, and $349 million in state and local tax revenue in Virginia alone. Given the significance of our growing and energy-intensive industry in relation to total energy demand in Virginia, companies’ data center energy interests should be taken into account in decisions regarding the future of the region’s energy infrastructure.”

A key aspect of Dominion’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $7 Billion USD, 600-mile underwater gas pipeline being co-developed by Dominion and Duke Energy and currently being challenged in the courts by the Southern Environmental Law Center. Instead, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Equinix, Iron Mountain, QTS, LinkedIn, Apple, Adobe, Akamai, and Salesforce have urged the utility to set their sites on renewable energy. Ceres, a non-profit organization that works on sustainability, published the letter on behalf of the signatories. The signees listed and expanded on four major points as the crux of their argument:

  • Companies providing or using data centers want to power our operations with renewable energy resources like wind and solar.
  • Data centers are at the forefront of innovative energy-efficient technologies to reduce the energy burden of our operations.
  • Energy storage technologies are here today and should be integrated into grid planning.
  • Grid planners should take these points into account before building expensive fossil-fuel infrastructure projects.

“Companies providing or using data centers are proud to offer fast, high-quality internet and cloud services, and we are grateful for access to abundant, reliable, low-cost energy that enables us to do so,” the letter concludes. “However, a clean, flexible, and dynamic grid–replete with renewable energy and modern energy technologies –is the way of the future.It is vital that the energy investments being made today are forward-thinking and truly serve the best interest of ratepayers, the economy, and the planet for generations to come.”