Amazon’s Billion Dollar Data Center Plans for Virginia 

January, 2023 - Victoria L. Creta

On January 20, 2023, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) plans to invest $35 billion by 2040 to establish multiple data center campuses across Virginia, pending legislative approval. Numerous localities in the Commonwealth are under consideration, and although none have been selected, residents in Northern Virginia have voiced concerns.
Specifically, residents are concerned over the noise and environmental effects of data centers, which mirror concerns raised in lawsuits filed by Gainesville residents in Prince William County after the Board of County Supervisors voted to approve an amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to create a data center complex. Northern Virginia lawmakers, Delegate Danica Roem and Senator Chap Peterson, have introduced bills this session aimed at stopping, or at least slowing down data center projects. Del. Roem introduced house bills specific to the Prince William County data center project, particularly HB 1974, requiring electrical transmission lines be built as a public interest, and HB 1986, requiring stormwater management techniques for the data center. In Joint Resolution 240, Sen. Peterson is asking the Commonwealth’s Department of Energy to study the impacts of data center development on Virginia’s environment, economy, energy resources, and ability to meet carbon-reduction goals.
Despite these concerns, and pending legislative approval, AWS’s investment has the opportunity to create 1,000 new jobs in Virginia, and extend Virginia’s exemption on sales and use tax for data center equipment until 2040. At a time when big-tech layoffs are a public concern, AWS’s deal with the Commonwealth provides hope for the industry, workers, and the economy. 



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