Gov. Youngkin pushes small nuclear reactors at Virginia Energy Summit

The Virginia Energy Summit, the work happening at the State Capitol Wednesday, could bring down your power bill one day.
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 1:45 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Dubbed The Virginia Energy Summit, the work happening at the State Capitol Wednesday could one day bring down your power bill.

“Our challenge is as Virginia continues its rapid progress towards being the best place in America to live and work and raise a family, we have a power supply-demand imbalance,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin, (R) Virginia.

It’s a stark warning from Governor Glenn Youngkin. He says Virginia’s power demand is growing five times faster than surrounding states.

And as a result, it will need 15 gigawatts in new power generating capacity, doubling the state’s current capacity.

His solution includes continuing to use natural gas and increasing nuclear options.

“There is an enormous amount of energy. There’s an enormous amount of enthusiasm, and there’s been an enormous amount of early progress,” said Gov. Youngkin.

Lawmakers approved his idea for the Virginia Power Innovation Fund to bolster research and development of innovative energy technologies, including nuclear. But without an updated budget, there’s no money for it.

And a bill to create a pilot program for Small Nuclear Reactors ultimately failed, blocked by state democrats.

But Youngkin vowed to press forward again when a new general assembly reconvenes in the new year.

“Virginia is growing, and it’s growing at a pace it hasn’t grown in a long time,” said Youngkin.

Youngkin has said it’s possible to have a small nuclear reactor serving customers in southwest Virginia in the next decade.

State Democrats are also firing back. In a statement Delegate Rip Sullivan said the following. “Today, lawmakers gathered for the House Commerce and Energy Committee’s Energy Summit. Every panelist recognized the enormous importance of the energy transformation underway in Virginia.

The Governor again expressed his enthusiasm for developing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR) in Virginia. A plan he acknowledges is—if achievable at all—at least ten years away. I wish he’d have the same enthusiasm about the path Virginians have already chosen, and the importance of staying focused on that path.

One thing he doesn’t talk about—so I later asked panelists about—is the likely cost of his SMR ‘moonshot’ plan. As we consider SMRs, the Administration needs to be honest and transparent with Virginians—who will be paying for these SMRs—about the cost. Those costs are significantly higher than the costs of solar, wind, and other promising renewable technologies that the Republicans in the Commonwealth are pushing to slow down or even eliminate.”