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Data Centers Now Need a Reactor’s Worth of Power, Dominion Says

Data center developers in Northern Virginia are asking utility Dominion Energy Inc. for as much power as several nuclear reactors can generate, in the latest sign of how artificial intelligence is helping drive up electricity demand.

Dominion regularly fields requests from developers whose planned data center campuses need as much as “several gigawatts” of electricity, Chief Executive Officer Bob Blue said Thursday during the company’s first-quarter earnings call. A gigawatt is roughly the output of a nuclear reactor and can power 750,000 homes.

Electric utilities are facing the biggest demand jump in a generation. Along with data centers to run AI computing, America’s grid is being strained by new factories and the electrification of everything from cars to home heating. The surge in demand is complicating utility efforts to turn off carbon-emitting power plants and meet their climate goals.

Over the past five years, Dominion has connected 94 data centers that, together, consume about four gigawatts of electricity, Blue said. That means that just two or three of the data center campuses now being planned could require as much electricity as all the centers Dominion hooked up since about 2019.

Source: Bloomberg