Notice of action: The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering the issuance of an order and local variance for data centers located in the Counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William. A variance is an exception to a general rule. This notice is given in accordance with the requirements of § 10.1-1307 C of the Code of Virginia.
Regulations affected: The primary regulation affected by this action is 9VAC5-80-1110 C of 9VAC5-80 (Permits for Stationary Sources).
Purpose of notice: DEQ is seeking comments on the proposed variance.
Public comment period: January 26 through March 14, 2023.
Public hearing: Conference Room, Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge VA, at 11:00 a.m., on February 27, 2023.
Public comment stage: Notice of Public Comment.
Description of proposal: Data center operation relies on the use of large amounts of electricity from the grid. DEQ is concerned that the Counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William is an area in which there may not be a sufficient amount of electricity for data centers due to severe, localized constraints in electricity transmission. A transmission constraint issue exists in the area which may affect the ability to provide enough electricity to data centers through 2025. In particular, the period between March and July 2023 has been identified as a time of potentially acute stress on the transmission capacity of the grid.
This proposed order and local variance would provide data centers located in three-county area a measure of relief from existing regulations and permit provisions that limit the use of Tier II and Tier IV emergency generators to periods of a PJM declared emergency. This order proposes to allow such Tier II and Tier IV generators to operate during periods that PJM has initiated a "Maximum Generation Emergency/Load Management Alert" for the area under procedures established in Section 2.3 of the PJM Manual 13: Emergency Operations Revision 86, November 3, 2022. This order also proposes to allow such Tier II and Tier IV generators to operate during periods that PJM has declared a "Post Contingency Local Load Relief Warning" for those counties under procedures established in Section 5.4 of PJM Manual 13. A "Maximum Generation Emergency/Load Management Alert" is called by PJM in anticipation of an imminent emergency but does not itself constitute a declaration of emergency under PJM’s Manual 13. Likewise, a "Post Contingency Local Load Relief Warning" does not constitute a declared emergency by PJM either. The order would authorize the data centers\' on-site generators to operate during times that fall short of a PJM declared emergency but when transmission constraints and strain on the electric grid nevertheless would be acute, thereby allowing the data centers to continue to serve their customers, maintain the integrity of internet, and alleviate demand on the electric grid during periods of stress. This order is being issued as a precautionary and redundant measure in the event that transmission constraints have a negative impact in the area.
Data centers would be required under the order and local variance to notify the Department when they are operating their Tier II and Tier IV emergency generators under the order’s provisions and to calculate the air pollution emitted by those generators during those times.
This order and variance would expire by July 31, 2023.
Locality particularly affected: Counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, Virginia.
How to comment: DEQ accepts written comments by email, fax, and postal mail. All written comments must include the full name, address and telephone number of the person commenting and be received by DEQ by the last day of the comment period. Both oral and written comments are accepted at the public hearing. DEQ prefers that comments be provided in writing, along with any supporting documents or exhibits. All materials received are part of the public record.
To review documents: The proposal is available on the DEQ Air Public Notices web site: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/permits-regulations/public-notices/air. The documents may also be obtained by contacting the DEQ representative named below. The public may review the documents between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm of each business day until the close of the public comment period at the following DEQ locations: 1) Main Street Office, Suite 1400, 1111 E. Main St, Richmond VA, 804-698-4000 and 2) Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge VA, 703-583-3800.
Contact for public comments, document requests and additional information: Karen G. Sabasteanski, Office of Air Data Analysis and Planning, Department of Environmental Quality, PO Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218 (phone 804-659-1973, fax 804-698-4178, email firstname.lastname@example.org).