back to article The US's biggest datacenter market is short on electricity

The largest datacenter market in the US is running into trouble: There isn't enough power transmission capacity in the region to handle all the bit barn projects. That's the word from Andy Power, president and CFO at Digital Realty, a real estate investment trust that owns and maintains more than 290 datacenters around the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dark times ahead

    "Loudoun County said that datacenter taxes are enough to cover the County government's entire operating expenses."

    You know every local government head's eyes will glimmer at that statement. Lowered taxes! Increased employment! We need some of this *now*!

    Whether they'll be able to keep the water running and the electric power going for the _residents_ will be a future discovery.

    (Hmm, I know someone living there, Loudoun County ... I should ask her if her taxes _were_ lowered?)

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Dark times ahead

      >Lowered taxes! Increased employment!<

      Data centers aren't known for needing lots of employees. This is even better for local government since they'd gather the taxes but won't need to invest in infrastructure such as waste water facilities and police stations.

    2. Drew Scriver

      Re: Dark times ahead

      The sales tax rate in Loudon county is 6%. of which 4.3% is state tax. The difference is levied by the county (and sometimes towns.) The average sales tax in Virginia counties is 5.6%.

      The effective average real estate tax in Loudon county is a whopping 1.08% - more than twice what it is in some other counties. The median for counties in the state is probably around 0.7%.

  2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Andy Power

    Did he get the job on the assumption that he knew convenient ways to generate electricity?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Andy Power

      Nominative determinism

      His cousin works at OVH, unfortunately their middle name is 'explosion-of-backup'

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Andy Power

      No, but they were sure he could create more Power with the cooperation of some ladies...

      Nothing related to the location of youporn servers of course.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Infrastructure

    1, Build data center in shit-hole freedom state with low taxes

    2, Discover state have spent nothing on power/water/transport infrastructure

    3, Profit

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Infrastructure

      >2, Discover state have spent nothing on power/water/transport infrastructure<

      Power is usually a private industry utility. How much water does a data center need once its cooling system has been filled? Infrastructure? What infrastructure? The number of employees needed for a sprawling bit barn wouldn't impact a rural B road. During construction, sure, they'd need more people but after that, not so many. Staggering shift changes would alleviate parking problems and traffic problems.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Infrastructure

        >Power is usually a private industry utility.

        Yep, however reliable, resilient, winterized power requires planning and investment beyond this quarter.

        >How much water does a data center need once its cooling system has been filled?

        Metric Shit-loads. Semiconductors are very sensitive to trace amounts of solvents. Cleaning out waste solvents for reuse is way more expensive than buying fresh new municipal water and purifying it

        >The number of employees needed for a sprawling bit barn wouldn't impact a rural B road.

        And yet the inward investment is going to generate so many high paying jobs that it's totally worth the $MM in 'grants' and tax breaks to bring it to the area.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Infrastructure

          Metric Imperial Shit-loads

        2. Dave@Home

          Re: Infrastructure

          You seem to confuse a datacentre with a semiconductor manufacturing facility

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Infrastructure

            Yea sorry, replying to multiple threads with a single thread brain

  4. david 12 Silver badge

    Transmission company appears to get most if not all of its power from one or two single interconnects to the Eastern Grid. It may be that increasing power demand may require planning and investment from the other transmission company?

  5. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Sounds like a poor place to locate a new center

    There has been a whole bunch of fiber laid across the US that is sitting dark along major highways. It wouldn't be hard to find a location with good access to power rather than locating somewhere that's hard up against an expensive bottleneck.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a poor place to locate a new center

      Actually, the important thing about North Virginia is it's basically another name for the Washington, DC area.

      Pretty much about as important as being in the central London area.

      That's why it's the largest datacenter market in the US. All the Feds & Three-Letter-Agencies are right there.

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Virginia is for Lovers

    Who presumably, like the power, don't go all the way

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Virginia is for Lovers

      Virginia is for Loners... with guns and an agenda.

  7. Binraider Silver badge

    ARM servers use less power for minor jobs. Most internet jobs are minor. Hint.

    Intel, AMD - power per compute IS important. Your customers in these data centre environments clearly want something different.

  8. Chairman of the Bored

    Another aspect to this

    I lived in central Virginia for a number of years and marvelled at the explosive growth of bit barns in the northern region of the state. The sheer scale of the infrastructure build out is breathtaking.

    There is a rather sharp division between the Internet and professional economy to the north and the legacy, largely agricultural economy immediately to the south. There are some pretty serious - and growing - social tensions between these regions of Virginia.

    For years Dominion Power has tried to build major transmission lines to better leverage their cheap nuclear and coal plants outside northern Virginia to service new loads in the north, and the local opposition has been strident to say the least. This is beyond your normal "not in my back yard" issue. This becomes personal. The split between Trumpian and Traditional America is definitely on display in that state.

    1. Drew Scriver

      Re: Another aspect to this

      West Virginians already seceded once. There are a lot of people in rural Virginia who believe it should be done again.

      Doesn't help either that 40% or rural Virginians don't have access to broadband internet access (or even high-speed internet access).

      Of course, once they do have broadband (in the next 10-20 years or so) they'll be using it for social media and to watch TV - which is projected to take more than 25% of the global power supply at the data center level.

  9. CapeCarl

    Number of Humans per 1K servers in a Bit Barn?:

    OK, this is just my personal experience over the last 10 years, shoveling coal into boilers in a financial corp's primary Bit Barn (actually tending to the physical and mental needs of Xeons and EPYCs): About 1 person per 1K servers...Certainly not much of a load on the local road system (local power system? Yes).

    This is with a mix of ~90% cattle to 10% pets.

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