Data centers continue to be the biggest economic development game in Virginia. The sector is dominated by Loudoun County, which spotted the potential earlier than anyone else and moved quickly to gain competitive advantage. Now Loudoun’s next-door-neighbor, Prince William County, is coming on strong.
The data center industry has brought 31 projects to the county to date, injecting $6.2 billion in capital investment and 912 jobs into the local economy, reports Virginia Business magazine. Most of the tax revenue goes to the county’s bottom line. For every $1 in county services the industry requires, data centers yield about $4.30 in tax revenue to Prince William.
Prince William is close to Ashburn in Loudoun County, which is known as Data Center Alley because of its concentration of more than 10 million square feet of data centers that are either in operation or under development.
As of December, Northern Virginia was the leading North America data center market with more than 30% of the market share and a record of 113.0 megawatts absorption of the total 357.85 megawatts in the top U.S. markets, according to JLL’s 2017 Data Center Outlook. That’s nearly double the total for the nearest competing market, Northern California, which had 59.1 megawatts.
In its latest report on data centers, JLL notes that Northern Virginia has all six major data center REITs (real estate investments trusts) and the top five cloud providers developing in the market.
The area has 12.6 million square feet of data center space, with 190 megawatts of new electric power under construction. JLL credits the area’s fiber-rich Internet infrastructure and affordable cost of electricity — an average of 5.2 cents per kilowatt hour for data centers — as competitive advantages.
Bacon’s bottom line: The data-center boom has a long way to go. Market analysts forecast continued growth as Big Data and the Internet of Things, among other factors, create demand for ever more data storage. Meanwhile, the shift from decentralized, in-house storage to Cloud storage will tend to concentrate the storage of data geographically in super-efficient facilities with access to abundant fiber-optic cable and a supply of cheap, preferably green, electricity. The main limit on the ability of Northern Virginia to accommodate more data centers may be the ability of Dominion Energy and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative to supply the region with power.
Dominion needs to upgrade its electric transmission capacity to serve Northern Virginia, but homeowners are not happy at the prospect of large towers and lines despoiling their views. As it happens, Prince William is ground zero for this conflict, where local residents are up in arms over Dominion’s proposed transmission line to serve a proposed Amazon Web Services data center in the Haymarket area. If Virginia wants to continue reaping the economic advantages of Northern Virginia’s data center boom, someone needs to figure out how to mediate these seemingly irreconcilable differences.There are currently no comments highlighted.