Amazon is planning a large data center campus next to a nuclear power station in Pennsylvania.

First reported by the Citizen Voice, Salem Township Supervisors this week voted 3-0 to rezone nearly 1,600 acres of land into a new industrial “Special Data Center Overlay District.”

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The data center Amazon acquired from Talen – Talen | Cumulus

Amazon officials said the company hopes to construct 15 data center buildings over the course of the next decade.

Amazon acquired a data center and land in Salem Township, Luzerne County, in March. The existing facility is powered by nuclear energy from Talen Energy’s adjacent Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (SSES).

Most of the rezoned land was previously zoned as agricultural; much of it is located between the Susquehanna nuclear power plant and the Caithness Moxie Freedom natural gas power plant along Mingle Inn Road.

The township’s Planning Commission previously recommended supervisors approve Amazon’s request. The Luzerne County Planning Commission offered no opinion on the plans.

DCD first announced Talen’s plans for a 1,200-acre nuclear-powered campus in July 2021. The company broke ground in 2021 and completed the first 48MW, 300,000 square foot (28,870 sqm) hyperscale facility early last year, along with a separate cryptomine facility. Talen has said the campus can support up to 960MW.

The Voice reported that five property owners on Mingle Inn Road said they were approached by Amazon in recent months with offers to acquire their land — zoned industrial — but none have accepted the offers as of now.

Michael Hodgson, who owns 13.5 acres on Mingle Hill Road, said Amazon’s real estate broker made an unsolicited, written offer for his property that he wasn’t satisfied with. He and his neighbors have hired an attorney.

“We are willing to potentially walk away from our lives if we have to. But we are not willing to do it for pennies on the dollar,” Hodgson said.

During the public meeting, residents questioned what will happen to the data centers when the nuclear power plant is eventually decommissioned. One reactor is set to be decommissioned in 2042, while the other is slated to be shut down in 2044. However, their licenses could be extended.

The township’s supervisors previously approved a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, break for Amazon - a 70 percent discount for 10 years.

Commissioned in 1983 for energy company PPL, the 2,494MW SSES is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the US. Its current owner, Talen Energy, was founded in 2015 after the competitive power generation business of PPL Corporation was spun off and combined with competitive generation businesses owned by private equity firm Riverstone Holdings.

Amazon has minimum contractual power commitments with Talen at the site that ramp up in 120MW increments over several years; AWS has a one-time option to cap commitments at 480MW. The cloud provider also has two 10-year extension options, tied to nuclear license renewals. As part of the deal, Talen will also supply AWS with energy via a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from the Susquehanna site.

Talen’s Nautilus crypto data center was not part of the deal with Amazon.

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