Amazon Web Services plans to invest $35 billion in Virginia data centers

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced on Friday that Amazon Web Services plans to invest $35 billion in new data centers in the state by 2040, which would represent the largest economic investment in Commonwealth history. .

The legislature has yet to approve millions of dollars in incentives, but a news release from the governor’s office said General Assembly leaders from both parties support the pending deal.

According to the Associated Press, if approved, Amazon would receive incentives from a new mega data center incentive program and a grant of up to $140 million for hand development site improvements. – labor and other costs.

In a tweet, Youngkin said the investment is expected to generate more than 1,000 statewide jobs, significantly less than the 25,000 job openings that accompanied Amazon’s decision to build a second headquarters in Arlington County in 2018.

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Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the Virginia Legislature in the House Chamber in Richmond, Va. Jan. 28, 2019. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

The exact amount of the subsidy will be determined by the number of jobs created, as set out in legislation currently being considered by the General Assembly, the AP reported. It will also include temporary exemptions from a sales and use tax imposed on Virginia data centers.

Youngkin’s office said data center locations would be determined at a later date. Bills recently proposed to the state legislature would increase regulations on where centers can be built.

Data centers have become a politically volatile topic, especially in Northern Virginia (NOVA), where structures are seemingly everywhere. Loudoun County, also known as “Data Center Alley,” has the largest concentration of data centers in the nation with 115 out of 27 million square feet of operational space, according to Dgtl Infra.

While tech companies prefer the NOVA area due to the area’s history as a grid access point, many residents have spoken out about the noise and environmental concerns that come with the influx of structures.

Data centers, which house the computer servers and hardware needed to support Internet use, require powerful fans and extensive cooling capacities that can be quite noisy, the AP said. They also consume a lot of electricity, which may require the construction of high voltage transmission lines to support them.

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Protesters against data centers in northern Virginia

Spencer Snakard, president of Protect Fauquier, speaks on August 28. Feb. 29, 2022, at a rally near Manassas, Virginia to protest a newly built data center for Amazon Web Services. (AP Photo/Matthieu Barakat)

Prince William County resident Bill Wright, who opposed a massive data center expansion recently approved by the county despite opposition within the community, said Friday’s announcement proves that the he influence of big tech funds has become “intoxicating for our politicians”.

While he doesn’t oppose data centers as a whole, Wright told the AP he hopes the state places them in areas that don’t harm the environment and in rural areas. where jobs are needed.

“Northern Virginia is overwhelmed by these things,” he said. “We might as well start calling ourselves the Commonwealth of Amazon.”

He also said he’s skeptical the state will stand up to tech companies that want the Northern Virginia hubs.

State Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, is the sponsor of a bill limiting the placement of data centers near natural or historic resources.

“In my view, data centers are short-term financial gains with long-term environmental consequences. Industrial buildings without real workers are not the economy of the future,” he said. “In fact, they could well be obsolete within a decade. During that time, we are losing valuable farmland and historic sites.”

Petersen said Virginia risks being overwhelmed with data centers if safeguards aren’t put in place.

Amazon helmets in front of a crane

Helmets with Amazon logos at the company’s HQ2 development site being built at Metropolitan Park in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2019. 17, 2021. (Pete Kiehart/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Suzanne Clark, spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said Amazon Web Services crawls several sites “in conjunction with the Commonwealth,” but specific sites were not listed.

An Amazon Web Services spokesperson did not specify the planned number of data centers or Amazon’s location preferences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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