Dominion Energy has unveiled the first of several accelerated projects to build new power lines and substations to accommodate growing demand from Loudoun data centers.
The energy utility had faced a crunch on its capacity not to generate electricity, but to get it to new data center campuses. During an Aug. 8 earnings call, Dominion CEO Bob Blue said last year the industry’s growth accelerated significantly, driven by the number of data centers planned, their growing size, and their faster schedules to reach full capacity. Seeing that, PJM Interconnection, the company that coordinates power transmission in Virginia, revised its energy demand forecasts upward, triggering a warning from Dominion that it may not be able to immediately serve new data centers in parts of the county.
But he also said Dominion was working to address the demand, and that two new 500 kilovolt transmission lines into eastern Loudoun would be needed.
A preliminary map of one possible new 500 kV transmission line depicts a new Mars substation on Carters School Road near Dulles Airport, with power lines along West Perimeter Road on the edge of airport property, crossing Loudoun County Parkway and then through the North Fork Broad Run Stream Valley Park and trail system near Birchwood at Brambleton. They would connect to the proposed new Wishing Star substation, around 1,000 feet south of the existing Brambleton substation by the intersection of Evergreen Mills Road and Arcola Mills Drive, a facility owned by both Dominion and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative.
There are three possible routes, but the only difference between them is where they cross Loudoun County Parkway.
Existing transmission lines nearby follow a similar route but stay south of the stream valley park.
Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox said the company plans to file plans with the State Corporation Commission in the fall after gathering public input, including from county leaders and planning and conservation officials.
“Routing is a complex, dynamic and iterative process that starts with identifying the area of need and then carefully considering land uses and constraints which we work with local stakeholders to understand,” Fox wrote by email. “Routing any infrastructure through a heavily developing area such as Ashburn is an incredibly complex exercise that involves balancing competing impacts. We perform field studies to make sure we have the most up to date information—which is constantly changing.”
She said the specific measures Dominion will propose for that mitigation have not yet been decided. And with three similar options for routing new transmission lines on the table, ultimately the decision on where to allow them will fall to the State Corporation Commission.
With the planned new substation near an existing one, she said the Brambleton substation is already at capacity and land-locked, and cannot be expanded.
Dominion will need to move up other plans in order to accommodate data center demand, those include replacing and upgrading transmission lines and structures.
Dominion has scheduled a public open house on the project Thursday, Sept. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at John Champe High School, 41535 Sacred Mountain St. near Aldie.
See the map and provide comment at DominionEnergy.com/nova.