Maryland bill to ease data center diesel generator permits

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has proposed a bill that would simplify the permitting process for data centers that use backup diesel generators. The bill, called the Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act, would exclude backup generators from being classified as “generating stations” that require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the state’s Public Services Commission (PSC).

The bill comes after Aligned Data Centers withdrew from a plan to build a 264MW hyperscale facility on the Quantum Loophole campus in Frederick County, Maryland, due to difficulties in getting permits for 168 diesel generators. The Quantum Loophole campus is a former aluminum smelting plant that aims to attract data center operators from the nearby Ashburn, Virginia, where the world’s largest data center hub is facing space and power constraints.

The bill has received support from Quantum Loophole and other data center developers, as well as from State Sen. William Folden, who said it would resolve a conflict with the state’s tax incentives for data centers. Dan Moore, a permitting consultant in California, said the bill makes sense because backup generators are not connected to the grid and do not affect public utility generation. He added that Maryland’s proposal is more reasonable than California’s rules, which subject data centers to the California Energy Commission’s permitting process.

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