Data centers, which take hard drives, fiber optic cable and electricity to create the "cloud" that stores the vast amount of video, music,– and, yes, data – upon which our mobile and Internet-linked world has come to depend, are a growing segment of Dominion Virginia Power’s customer base.
From Loudoun County in Northern Virginia to Mecklenburg County in Southside Virginia and stops in between, data centers are expanding or building across our service area. The amount of electricity that they are expected to demand from us is expected to grow by 1,200 megawatts over the next five years.
Reasons that data centers are attracted to our service area include our reasonable rates and balanced fuel mix, coupled with our reliable service, strong customer service, highly educated workforce, and numerous fiber networks and fiber providers. Another draw is the area's proximity to Washington, D.C. and New York City.
There’s been a lot of focus recently about the mix of fuels that provides the all-important electricity for data centers. Our fuel mix includes a balance between nuclear and coal with a growing amount of natural gas. We also are adding more renewable energy sources to continue on our trek to meet Virginia’s renewable energy goal of 15 percent by 2025.
Our fuel mix means that we already operate one of the least carbon-intensive generating fleets in the country. In its most recent June 2010 report (2008 data) from the Natural Resources Defense Council, "Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States," Dominion was 70th out of the top 100 for pounds of carbon emitted per megawatt-hour generated (see Page 44 of the report).
Our carbon intensity is expected to be even better as we close nine coal-fired power stations and in Virginia replace or convert four with natural gas and three with renewable energy.
Between 2011 and 2016, Dominion Virginia Power has added or plans to add about 3,200 megawatts of new natural-gas fired generation. These stations are cleaner in environmental emissions than coal stations and would comply with the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulation.
Dominion has about 410 megawatts on the grid today in Virginia and is on track to meet the state’s renewable energy goal of 15 percent of its power coming from renewables by 2025.
Biomass -- Dominion Virginia Power is converting three power stations from coal to renewable biomass. Biomass is waste wood left over from the regional timbering industry.
Solar -- The company is seeking permission from Virginia regulators for a community solar program where we would lease rooftops of commercial buildings, schools, etc., and install 30 megawatts of electricity-producing photovoltaic solar panels, enough to power 140,000 homes at peak demand.
Offshore Wind -- We have told the federal government that we would like to lease federal lands off the coast of Virginia Beach for an approximately 2,000-megawatt wind farm. We are also leading a federal study of what it would take to lower the costs of offshore wind generation, currently the most expensive source of renewable energy according to the EIA.
Onshore Wind -- We also are looking for onshore wind generation sites in Virginia where allowed. Unfortunately, we cannot build right now in the best wind field in the state, in far western Tazewell County, because of a tower height restriction.