Virginia Data Center Power Lines Cause A Stir

The Virginia General Assembly and residents of Prince William County raised protests in early January over proposed power lines that would reportedly service Amazon's new Virginia data center.

The high voltage power lines in question would stand more than 100 feet tall and run through both rural and residential parts of the county to service the facility. The complex has yet to be built, but is planned for a site on the John Marshall Highway in Haymarket. Dominion Virginia Power has been contracted to provide energy to the data center, and the company has begun to float proposals for the creation of a new substation and transmission facilities to accommodate the site.

Dominion has suggest multiple routes the power lines may take to reach the Haymarket data center, traveling from either the north, south or east. No matter which route is chosen, the lines would require 120-foot-wide easements, raising concerns from locals about the "adverse impact which the new high voltage lines required to serve the data center will have on residences, historic designated areas, and significant future economic development," according to a letter written by residents to Amazon president Jeff Bezos.

Speculation Over Data Center Owner
While there has been no official announcement that Amazon will be owner of the Haymarket data center, it is widely assumed by those who live in the area as well as elected officials. The tech giant has been rapidly growing its Amazon Web Services cloud computing sector in the state over the past few years, even signing a contract with the CIA. There have also been job postings online for positions within an Amazon data center in Haymarket, leading many to connect the dots. The planned facility will offer nearly 500,000 square feet of available space and capacity for 230 kV power transmission.

Residents in the area have created an opposition group to halt the creation of the new power lines, called the Coalition to Protect Prince William County. The group, which claims to have hundreds of supporters, want lawmakers to force Dominion to partially or completely bury the power lines and have them run along the Interstate-66 corridor.

"This is part of the rural crescent. You have open spaces with farms, there's cows being raised, there's horse farms. You've got a lot of historical and cultural spaces that would be affected by this," said Elena Scholossberg, director of the coalition. "The community is coming together saying we want the route that disturbs the least number of people and that the I-66 corridor is the best location for that."

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