Climate Clips: Virginia Has the Biggest Data Center Market in the World. Can It Also Decarbonize Its Grid?

This March, Loudoun County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. in Northern Virginia that is home to the greatest concentration of data centers in the world, made an unexpected move: It rejected a proposal to let a company build a bigger data center than existing zoning automatically allowed.

See the full story at Inside Climate News.

More DMV News

Va. Went All in on Solar. Then, its Powerful Utility Changed the Rules.
Washington Post
Four years ago, Fairfax County announced a landmark clean energy plan to install solar panels on more than 100 buildings, including schools, community centers, and government facilities. However, progress on that goal — which the county estimated would save $60 million in utility costs over 25 years — has stalled after the state’s biggest utility imposed expensive grid connection requirements that solar proponents say make those midsize projects unviable.

Will Virginia’s Residential Solar Market Survive the Coming Year?
Virginia Mercury
When the Virginia Clean Economy Act became law in 2020, solar advocates celebrated. In addition to creating a framework for a transition to a zero-carbon electricity sector by 2050, the VCEA and sister legislation known as Solar Freedom swept away multiple barriers to installing solar in Virginia. However, the VCEA came with a ticking time bomb. It provided that in 2024 for Appalachian Power, and 2025 for Dominion, the State Corporation Commission would hold proceedings to determine the fate of net metering, and in particular the terms for compensating new net metering customers.

Va. Attorney General Miyares Challenging Heavy Truck Emissions Rule and Other Federal Proposals
Virginia Mercury
Joining 23 conservative-led states’ efforts, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has signed on to legal challenges to new federal rules designed to advance emission reductions and address what scientists say is causing extreme weather events.

Policymakers, Advocates Look to Remake Bay Cleanup Program Even as Some Goals Go Unmet
Maryland Matters
Federal and state environmental officials have acknowledged for the past couple of years that states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will fall short of meeting some of their pollution reduction and resiliency goals by the federally prescribed 2025 deadlines.

National and International News

How a Simple Fix Could Double the Size of the U.S. Electricity Grid
Washington Post
There is one big thing holding the United States back from a pollution-free electricity grid running on wind, solar, and battery power: not enough power lines.

Landfills Leak Methane at Alarming Rates, New Research Shows
Canary Media
Any climate action plan that aims to quickly turn the tide of global warming has to tackle methane, which traps orders of magnitude more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide in the first years after it’s emitted. For this reason, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently adopted rules requiring oil and gas drillers to monitor for leaks of the potent greenhouse gas — and fix them immediately if they’re found. The new regulations also empower community groups and environmental advocates to report fossil fuel companies if they can provide evidence of leaks themselves.

For Each Public Charger, Here’s How Many EVs are looking to Plug in
Washington Post
For the past few years, electric vehicles have flooded onto America’s roads: Tesla Model 3s, Hyundai Ioniq 5s, even the occasional electric Hummer. In 2023, automakers sold almost 1.2 million all-electric cars to U.S. consumers, accounting for over 7 percent of total new car sales and a new national record.

EPA Launches New Energy Star Residential Standard
Utility Dive
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a new certification program — the Energy Star NextGen Certification for New Homes and Apartments — for homes that meet specific requirements for increased energy efficiency and reduced emissions.

EVs Now Beat Rail as the Largest Electricity Consumer in the US Transport Sector
The EIA started publishing estimated EV electricity consumption at the national, regional, and state levels in 2018. It derives its EV electricity consumption estimates using a model instead of using its traditional surveys (and notes that models are “subject to model error, which we are trying to understand better.”) It compared the estimates with consumption data from electric utilities that report transportation sector end use, which is almost only municipal and regional rail systems.