Big Tech Urgently Requests More Power For Data Centers

Big Tech Urgently Requests More Power For Data Centersby Alex Kimani*

U.S. electricity demand is projected to increase by up to 15% over the next decade, driven by AI, clean energy, and cryptocurrency industries. Major energy companies and tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are urgently requesting more power to support gigawatt-scale data centers. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved a major transmission policy update to enhance the grid’s capacity and reliability

Over the past few years, dozens of pundits and industry experts have emphasized that the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution is driving unprecedented electricity demand growth in the United States and globally. 

In a report titled “The Era of Flat Power Demand is Over, power consulting firm Grid Strategies has revealed that United States grid planners including regional transmission operators (RTOs) and utilities have nearly doubled their five-year power demand growth projections. After decades of minimal or flat growth, U.S. electricity demand is projected to expand by as much as 15% over the next decade driven by the Artificial Intelligence (AI), clean energy, and cryptocurrencies boom.

And now top energy companies have joined this clarion call. Executives at NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), Southern Company (NYSE:SO) and Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) have warned that meeting rocketing power demand is critical to U.S. economic and national security. According to Petter Skantze, vice president of infrastructure development at NextEra Energy, Big Tech executives at Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB) are requesting utilities to supply more power as they continue rapid buildout of gigawatt-scale data centers. These giant data centers consume as much power as the entire output of a nuclear power plant.

"This is a different urgency coming. They need this load to drive the next iteration of growth. They're showing up now at the utility and they're banging on the door and they're saying I need to put this resource on the grid," Skantze told the Reuters Global Energy Transition conference in New York City this week. Skantze says the stakes are high for the U.S. economy, a big challenge being the availability of adequate resources to connect these power-hungry data center projects to the power grid.

Meanwhile, CEO Chris Womack says his company is seeing a level of demand not seen since the advent of heat pumps and air conditioning in the South in the 1970s and 1980s. The utility is expecting demand to grow by three or four times.

"A lot of this is dependent and contingent upon what we see with artificial intelligence and all those large learning models and what data centers will consume. You're also seeing in the Southeast, this incredible population growth and you're seeing all this onshoring with manufacturing," Womac said at the conference.

Last month, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm revealed that President Joe Biden's administration has been talking to major technology companies to invest in climate-friendly electricity generation to meet their surging demand. 

“We've been talking with data companies. The large ones have commitments to net-zero and would like to see clean baseload power. If the tech companies are coming in and are going to pull clean power from the grid, they should bring the power with them. And so a lot of that conversation is happening right now among tech companies and utilities, tech companies and nuclear companies," Granholm told Reuters in an interview.

FERC Approves First Major U.S. Electric Transmission Upgrade

Thankfully, the United States' aging power infrastructure might soon start getting a much-needed revamp. Back in May, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the first major electric transmission policy update in over a decade, a move expected to speed up new interregional lines to help the grid cope with surging demand. The new rule marks FERC’s first-ever update on long-term transmission planning and is seen as a big win for the U.S. administration’s ambitious goal to generate 80% of the country's electricity from renewables by 2030 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035. 

"This rule cannot come fast enough," FERC Chairman Willie Phillips, who voted in favor of the final rule, told Reuters. "There is an urgent need to act to ensure the reliability and the affordability of our grid. We are at a transformational moment for the electric grid with phenomenal load growth," he added, citing the surge in domestic manufacturing, proliferation of data centers, and the surge in extreme weather events.

For nearly two years, FERC has been working to reform how new electric transmission gets approved and paid for. The final rule requires transmission project participants to submit plans for how to split costs between states and companies and also determine whether transmission proposals will meet long-term needs cost-effectively and give operators the ability to re-evaluate projects that face delays or cost-overruns or delays.

*Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for 

(, July 2, 2024)

EVENTS 15th South East Europe Energy Dialogue 3rd Tirana Energy Forum 1st Greek-Turkish Energy Forum Decarbonization Policies in South East Europe – between climate change and war


PUBLICATIONS The Greek Energy Sector 2023 South East Europe Energy Outlook 2021/2022 Long-Term Gas Contracting Terms, definitions, pricing - Therory and practice More

COOPERATING ORGANISATIONS IEA Energy Institute Energy Community Eurelectric Eurogas Energy Management Institute BBSPA AERS ROEC BPIE