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NOW is the time for Maryland to manage “new” data center industry development by requiring rigorous and effective protections to prevent environmental damage, long-term climate impacts and other costs.

Potential Environmental and Community Impacts of Data Centers in Maryland

  • In an initial foray into Maryland, data center developers have targeted approximately 9,400 acres of agriculturally zoned land in southern Frederick County (1) and possibly more than 740 acres in Montgomery County for massive industrial scale data centers. (2) For comparison, in “data center alley” in eastern Loudoun County, facilities cover roughly 573 acres. (3)

  • Maryland has a brief and urgent opportunity to learn from Virginia’s experience and to implement regulations that will better balance the costs and benefits of any data center developmet.

Does data center development benefit Maryland?

  • New hyperscale data centers are being touted as potential revenue sources and job generators for Maryland at a time of serious budget cutbacks, slow business growth and other economic challenges.

  • However, due to Maryland’s tax structure which exempts data centers from business personal property taxes, the state would net only15 percent of the revenue that data centers provide to neighboring Virginia. (4)


Why Be Concerned? Power, Climate, Transmission Lines, Water

The Piedmont Environmental Council, the National Parks Conservation Association and others have documented extensive environmental impacts from Virginia’s large industrial data center developments.


  • Hyperscale data centers as currently designed require massive amounts of power. The initial Quantum Loophole project in Frederick County is planned to use 2.4 gigawatts (GW) for data centers on 1,600 acres of industrially zoned property in Adamstown. (5)

  • This additional power demand is like adding over 600,000 new homes to the existing multi-state PJM power grid (6), roughly two times the number of housing units in Baltimore. (7)

  • Developers are already lobbying for another 7,500 acres of primarily agriculturally zoned land for more data centers which would add similar power requirements. (8) In Virginia, Dominion Energy warned in 2022 that the region’s growing data center demands were outstripping their infrastructure capacity. (9)

Climate Impacts

  • Much of Maryland’s power is still generated by burning fossil fuels that produce significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The added GHG emissions caused by the power for just the initial Quantum Loophole project will totally eclipse Maryland’s extensive efforts to cut GHG and implement the Climate Solutions Now Act.


  • Data centers’ added power requirements may require continued operation of regional coal-fired power plants, like Brandon Shores near Baltimore (10), which are a major source of GHG.

  • In addition, the initial Quantum Loophole project in Adamstown is planned to require over 1,000 diesel- fueled generators (11), each the size of a freight train locomotive, for backup uninterrupted data operations.

  • One example: The Aligned Data Center development planned on approximately 70 acres at Quantum Loophole, was the first project to apply for exemption from the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) process for its 168 diesel generators producing 504 megawatts (MW) of power. The PSC ruled that exemptions, by state law, are only available for up to 70 MW of power. Aligned refused to go through the CPCN process and cancelled its project. (12)


  • In addition to GHG emissions, data centers create other serious impacts including 24/7 noise and light pollution, extensive paved surfaces, and reduction of farmland, forests and greenspace essential for climate sustainability.

New Transmission Lines

  • The costs of new transmission lines proposed by grid manager PJM from Pennsylvania through Maryland to support both Quantum Loophole and Virginia data center projects will be paid by local residents. (13)(14)

  • The miles of new high-tension towers, substations and other infrastructure will cross Maryland through farm and forest lands, waterways, and communities and cause intense watershed destruction due to excavation for the new utility rights of way.


  • Hyperscale data centers as proposed in Frederick County require massive amounts of water for cooling. For

Quantum Loophole’s project alone, the company has stated need for at least five million gallons per day, about 80% of City of Frederick daily usage,15 for industrial cooling rather than to sustain local resident and business water supplies or recharge for the Monocacy River or local aquifers. With increasing heat and more frequent droughts caused by climate change, the County’s water resources, as well as downstream water users, including Washington DC, are already challenged.

  • Large industrial installations like data centers require expanses of impermeable paved surfaces that worsen storm water flooding, disturb watersheds, prevent natural groundwater recharge, and affect local aquifers and drinking water. Storage of diesel fuel for data centers’ backup generators increases risk of release to the region’s watersheds.


What Can You Do NOW?


  • Be aware of upcoming state legislation that proposes exemptions from Maryland’s CPCN process for data centers’ diesel generators. Watch for Sugarloaf Alliance action alerts. The CPCN process should be applied as conceived, including the requirement to disclose and consider applications in a full public process. If large solar facilities are required to comply with CPCN, diesel generator complexes for data centers, a hundred times larger, should not be exempt.


  • Support upcoming state legislation requiring data centers to offset their huge power consumption with renewables. Watch for Sugarloaf Alliance action alerts. This is critical to avoid collapse of goals of the Climate Solutions Now Act. Without new legislation to protect Maryland’s rate payers, data centers’ enormous additional power consumption will obliterate the excellent work done so far to reduce the state’s GHG emissions.

  • Insist on transparency of all County and State discussions and negotiations regarding data center development. Be aware that the developers who will profit most from new data centers are not residents and will not be held responsible for the short- and long-term impacts of their industrial scale developments on other local businesses, residents and communities.




  2. New Era for the Dickerson Power Plant Property — Sugarloaf Citizens Association

  3. (

    new-development-rules/ )

  4. Sales and Use Tax Tip 28 (





  9. Dominion Energy admits it can't meet data center power demands in Virginia - DCD (


  11. Scott Noteboom, Quantum Loophole at Frederick Data Centers Workgroup, Jan. 10, 2024.

  12. PSC chair: Commission followed the law on data center decision | READER COMMENTARY – Baltimore Sun

  13. Why are ratepayers footing the bill for Virginia’s data center buildout? - Virginia Mercury

  14. Scott Noteboom, Quantum Loophole at Frederick Data Centers Workgroup, Jan. 10, 2024. Data Center Workgroup - Jan 10th,

    2024 (

  15. City of Frederick daily water consumption - Search (

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