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Amazon Web Services plans to build two data centers in Louisa County |  Virginia


(The Center Square) — After announcing plans in January to invest $35 billion over the next 17 years to build more data centers in Virginia, Amazon Web Services, the cloud services arm of Amazon, has chose to invest about a third. of these funds in Louisa County to build two data centers by 2040.

Northern Virginia — and Loudoun County in particular — is the data center capital of the world, with nearly 300 centers in the region and about 70% of global internet traffic routed through Loudoun, according to news source Governing. Data centers house servers, data storage drives, network equipment, and other computing infrastructure to store digital business data. They play a vital role in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, requiring increased storage capacity.

Louisa County is excited about AWS’ $11 billion investment in this country, citing the hundreds of jobs the data centers will create and the expanded tax base. AWS will be one of the largest private sector employers in the county, according to a press release.

“This is a historic moment for the town. AWS’s plans to move into Louisa represent an incredible opportunity that benefits our citizens and our community as a whole,” Louisa County Administrator Christian Goodwin said in a statement.

Although helping to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce and economy, data centers can be controversial because they can use an enormous amount of energy and water for cooling , depending on their size and other factors. Data centers average about 100,000 square feet, according to

THE US Department of Energy considers data centers “one of the most energy-intensive building types” because they can consume “10 to 50 times more energy per floor area than a typical commercial office building.”

Louisa County officials don’t yet know the size of the data centers Amazon plans to build; they know there will be two campuses, county spokeswoman Cindy King told The Center Square.

Due to the energy needs of data centers, new centers require a lot of planning, permitting, and construction from utilities.

In anticipation of more data centers in Henrico County, Dominion Energy filed a Request for 1,170 pages with the State Corporation Commission “to approve a route for two new 4.69-mile transmission lines,” according to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. If approved, the lines will not be completed until 2026.

Maybe Virginia has become home to 35% of hyperscale data centers worldwide because it was “one of the few states to offer infant industry incentives” in 2009, according to Governing.

In his article “Virginia has a data center problem” for Virginia Mercury, contributor Ivy Main cited a state audit that showed “Virginia taxpayers provided more than $830 million to data center operators through 2020,” not including $140 million grants earmarked for AWS in the latest state budget.

John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, thinks data centers are a misuse of taxpayers’ money.

“Proximity to a data center mattered much more back in the days when a company’s server was a single computer that you physically had to maintain,” Mozena said at Center Square.

“One of the biggest selling points of cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services today is that it doesn’t matter where the data center that powers your business is located…and that makes the paying a lot of money for these services without any sense. perspective of economic development,” Mozena said.

For the data centers that will be set up in Louisa County, the county plans to “reduce a portion of new tax revenue paid by AWS — meaning no funds from current county revenue will be used,” said King.