US utility Dominion expects to connect 15 more data centers to the grid in Virginia over the course of 2024, after connecting 15 facilities last year totaling almost a gigawatt of capacity.

In its most recent earnings presentation this week, the company said it had connected 94 data centers with more than 4GW of capacity in Northern Virginia since 2019. This included 15 data centers totaling 933MW in 2023, and 15 more are due to be connected in 2024.

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The company didn’t include the capacity of those 15 facilities going live this year, and in the earnings call CEO Robert Blue said he doesn’t know how quickly they will ramp up to full capacity.

Dominion's 2023 annual report said data centers represented 24 percent of Virginia Power’s electricity sales for the years ended December 2023, up from 21 percent in 2022.

The utility said individual facility demand is growing from around 30MW to 60-90MW, and campus requests are now ranging from 300MW to “several GW.”

During the earnings call, CEO Blue said data centers were “ramping up faster than they have before and their requests are bigger than they’ve been before.”

“Typically... they might ramp into that capacity over a 4- to 5-year type of period,” he said. “And now that same capacity that we're interconnecting could be closer to a 2- to 3-year period.”

“We're going to see substantial load growth driven by electrification data centers for the foreseeable future,” he added.

For the three months ended March 2024, Dominion posted net income of $674 million, compared to $981 million for the same period in 2023. Operating earnings (non-GAAP) for the quarter were $483 million compared to $515 million in 2023.

American Electric Power seeing 15GW of services – data centers driving demand

American Electric Power (AEP), a utility covering large parts of the US, including Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, has seen service requests totaling up to 15GW, with data centers a major driver of demand.

AEP's commercial load in the first quarter of 2024 grew at 10.5 percent over the first quarter of last year, driven in part by data centers. The company said driving that demand was existing and new projects that have ramped up more quickly than first anticipated, especially with some large customers in Ohio and Texas.

The company said it has 10-15GW of incremental service requests between now and the end of the decade – with Ohio as the biggest driver – with “hundreds of inquiries” totaling “many more gigawatts.”

“AEP's industry-leading transmission network continues to attract meaningful investment from data centers and other commercial and industrial customers, especially in our Indiana, Ohio, and Texas service areas,” said Ben Fowke, interim chief executive officer and president.

During the earnings call, Fowke added: “I see the need to increase capital spend in the future, including incremental investment related to commercial load growth from data centers and resiliency spend.”

“We expect more transmission investment possibilities driven by this data center growth, specifically in substations and customer connections.”

Amazon and Google’s data center projects in Indiana were both named as drivers of increased capacity.

The company, which has around 38GW of generating capacity, said it is investing more than $27 billion in its transmission and distribution systems over the next five years.

AEP’s first-quarter 2024 earnings were $1 billion, up from $397 million in Q1 3023 2023. Operating earnings for the quarter were $670 million up from $572 million in 2023.

PSEG explores nuclear-powered data center deals

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), a utility serving New Jersey, is in talks to potentially see nuclear-powered data centers developed alongside its plants.

In its quarterly earnings call this week, the company said it is in potential discussions about direct power sales to data centers from one of its units in New Jersey.

“We have had discussions related to both sides of the meter in recent months ... for mid-sized data center construction of approximately 50MW to 100MW, and behind-the-meter inquiries for colocated facilities that prioritize highly reliable carbon-free baseload power from existing facilities,” said CEO Ralph LaRossa.

PSEG Nuclear operates the Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations in Lower Alloways Creek, and is a part owner of the Peach Bottom Nuclear generation station in Delta, Pennsylvania.

Salen has a total generating capacity of 2,295MW; PSEG’s portion is 1,318MW. Hope Creek has a total generating capacity of 1,173MW.

LaRossa didn’t disclose which site was in discussion, but said he doesn’t foresee a data center being built there before 2025.

PJM: Summer demand will be met, but reserves tighter

US transmission firm PJM has said it has enough resources to serve load over the summer, but the margin for error is lower than last year.

“PJM Interconnection expects to meet summer electricity demand in 2024, though continuing generator retirements and increasing demand continue to erode reserve levels for the operator of the nation’s largest electrical grid,” the company said. “Tighter reserves could result in the use of demand response or additional emergency procedures under scenarios involving extreme heat combined with significant generator outages.”

The company, which serves Virginia and surrounding states, said the loss of generation resources is outpacing the addition of replacement resources amid accelerating growth in demand for electricity. A separate PJM report suggests for every 1MW of retired thermal generation, “multiple megawatts” of intermittent renewable power is needed to ensure operation.

PJM has fewer generation resources to draw on this summer compared with 2023 – approximately 182,500MW of installed generating capacity is available in 2024 to meet customer needs, compared with approximately 186,500MW of installed capacity last summer.

The company projects higher peak demand for electricity this summer, at approximately 151,000MW, compared with the 2023 summer peak load of 147,000MW. The National Weather Service predicts above-average temperatures this summer for the entire PJM footprint, as well as wetter conditions than normal.

PJM’s all-time, one-day highest power use was recorded in the summer of 2006 at 165,563MW. And although PJM has performed reliability studies at loads exceeding 164,000 MW, the increased load forecast and reduced generating capacity “reduces reserve margins” for extreme weather scenarios.

In an extreme scenario of increased demand, combined with low solar and wind output and/or high generator outages, PJM said might have to implement additional procedures to manage emergencies, including demand response, calls for conservation, limits on electricity exports, or even temporary service interruptions.