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    Friday, May 24, 2024

    Waterford asked to host data center project at Millstone

    Waterford ― Data center developer NE Edge LLC has asked the town to serve as a host municipality for a two-building data center on Dominion Energy’s Millstone property.

    First Selectman Rob Brule announced Tuesday night that the town would stand to receive fees from NE Edge totaling more than $231 million over 30 years in both annual and periodic supplemental payments.

    "We are encouraged to see our largest taxpayer reinvest in our community,“ Brule said in a news release. ”This particular collaboration will undoubtedly benefit every taxpayer in the Town of Waterford, not only today, but for generations to come."

    Brule declined to comment further.

    In a letter to the town, NE Edge Manager George A. McLaughlin III described one of the two proposed buildings as two stories high with a 568,000-square-foot footprint. More than 1 million square feet of space would be available for cloud and data storage servers.

    The second, nearby building also would rise two stories. It would have a 214,000-square-foot footprint and 428,000 square feet of space, also for cloud and data storage servers, McLaughlin wrote in the letter. Both buildings would be supplied with electricity directly from Dominion's two nuclear power facilities on the site, according to the news release.

    Selectwoman Beth Sabilia said Tuesday night that she was not part of the deal between Dominion and NE Edge, but thinks utilization of the Millstone site is a “great idea.” She pointed to the size of the property and the ability to generate power on-site as major reasons.

    The on-site power generation will eliminate the need for diesel generators, which often create noise, a factor in Groton residents’ opposition last spring when NE Edge proposed a data center project for that town. The Millstone plant also provides redundant energy, meaning it has multiple power sources to rely on in the event one malfunctions.

    “It means Dominion is moving forward,” Sabilia said. “We’ve all been concerned and want to support Dominion, and they come with this partnership and it is very forward- looking.”

    Sabilia said the project would involve a three-year construction plan under a labor agreement, meaning union workers and apprentices would be hired. She called the project a “great opportunity” to build career paths while providing approximately 1,500 construction jobs and 200 permanent data-center jobs.

    The payments to the town, Sabilia added, would help offset natural and inflationary increases in future municipal budgets, a direct impact on taxpayers. It would allow the town to be more flexible, and potentially offer more services to residents, she said.

    “All in all, it looks like a great opportunity for the town of Waterford,” Sabilia said.

    "We are looking forward to sharing with Waterford residents and decision-makers the diverse benefits this project can provide for the customers who use these new data centers, Dominion Energy and the Town of Waterford,“ attorney William McCoy, a spokesman for NE Edge, said in the release. ”The project also has great potential to meet the state and New England regional needs for these types of data management facilities, which prompted last year's legislation."

    Under legislation passed by the Connecticut General Assembly, towns cannot tax data centers’ equipment or buildings but are allowed to negotiate fees in lieu of such taxes as part of a host municipality fee agreement.

    “Dominion Energy is exploring this opportunity with NE Edge to help respond to a critical data infrastructure need in our state,” said Millstone Site Vice President Michael O’Connor. “The data center’s need to find a suitable site and the availability of space on Millstone Power Station property make this a potentially beneficial partnership for Dominion Energy.”

    The proposed host municipality agreement will be considered by both the Board of Selectmen and the Representative Town Meeting over the coming weeks. The Board of Selectmen is set to review the proposal at a special meeting Wednesday night.

    If the agreement is approved, the project would proceed to planning and design phases, then go forward for consideration by multiple local, state and federal agencies over the next year.

    k.arnold@theday.com

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