By 2040, Amazon Web Services plans to invest $35 billion in new data centers in Virginia state. The largest economic investment in the history of the commonwealth will be made by Amazon Web Services, according to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s announcement on Friday.
Millions of dollars in incentives still need to be approved by the legislature, but according to a news release from the governor’s office, leaders of the General Assembly from both parties are in favor of the proposed agreement.
If authorized, Amazon will earn benefits from a new Mega Data Center Incentive Program as well as a grant of up to $140 million for workforce development site renovations and other costs, according to the Associated Press.
Youngkin stated in a tweet that the investment is anticipated to create more than 1,000 jobs around the state, which is much fewer than the 25,000 job vacancies that resulted from Amazon’s plan to establish a second headquarters in Arlington County in 2018.
According to a piece of legislation the General Assembly is considering, the precise amount of the grant will depend on how many jobs are generated. Additionally, temporary exemptions from a sales and use tax levied against Virginia data centers will be included.
The locations of the data centers would be decided at a later time, according to Youngkin’s administration. Recent state legislative proposals include bills that would tighten restrictions on where the centers can be erected.
Politics around data centers have been contentious, particularly in northern Virginia (NOVA), where the buildings are pervasive. According to Digital Infra, Loudoun County, commonly known as “Data Center Alley,” has the highest number of data centers in Virginia state with 115 spread across 27 million square feet of the operational area.
Despite the fact that IT businesses favor the NOVA area due to the area’s history as a network access point, many locals have voiced their concerns about the noise and environmental issues brought on by the increase in structures.
According to the AP, data centers—which house the computer servers and other hardware required to sustain internet use—need loud fans and large cooling capabilities. They also use a lot of electricity, which means building high-voltage transmission lines to sustain them may be necessary.
Bill Wright, a resident of Prince William County, opposed a sizable data center expansion that was recently approved by the county despite opposition from the community, and he said Friday’s announcement demonstrates that the power of big tech money has grown to the point where it is “intoxicating to our politicians.”
While he does not have a problem with data centers in general, Wright told the AP that he hopes the state will locate them in environmentally friendly locations and in rural areas where there is a need for jobs.
These things are overwhelming Northern Virginia, he declared. We might as well start referring to ourselves as the Amazon Commonwealth.
He said that he doubts the state will oppose tech firms that want to locate their centers in northern Virginia.
A bill banning the location of data centers close to natural or historic resources is sponsored by state senator Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Fairfax.
“The data centers, in my opinion, are short-term commercial successes with long-term environmental costs. The future economy will not consist of industrial structures with no actual labor, “added he. “They might even be obsolete in ten years. While this is going on, we are losing important agricultural and historic sites.”
If safeguards aren’t put in place, Virginia risked being overrun with data centers, according to Petersen.
Speaking on behalf of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Suzanne Clark said that Amazon Web Services is looking into a number of potential site locations “in conjunction with the Commonwealth,” though she did not name any specific places.
The number of planned data centers or Amazon’s preferred locations were not made clear by an Amazon Web Services spokeswoman.