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Virginia governor signs bills to support SMR development

Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed into law two bills that will support ambitions for Virginia to include small modular reactors (SMRs) as part of an “all-of-the-above” energy plan released last year. Projects on SMR feasibility and supply chain have also received a share of USD8.1 million of grant awards announced by the governor.

The first piece of legislation – HB 2386 and SB 1464 – creates the Virginia Power Innovation Fund for the research and development of innovative energy technologies, including nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and utilisation, and energy storage. It also creates the Virginia Power Innovation Program to use money from the fund to establish a nuclear innovation hub and award competitive grants to support energy innovation.

The second bill – HB 1779 – creates the Nuclear Education Grant Fund to award competitive grants to
higher education providers to establish or expand a nuclear education programme to create employment and training pathways in areas including nuclear engineering and nuclear welding.

“Today is a great day for Virginia energy and American energy. With the bills I’m signing, we’re moving closer to delivering on the All-American, All-of-the-Above Energy Plan I put forward last year. We can, in fact, make Virginia energy more reliable, affordable, and clean while creating jobs and spurring innovation and today is a testament to that,” Youngkin said as he signed the legislation on 23 March.

When he launched the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan last October, Youngkin envisaged that a commercial SMR would be serving customers with baseload power in southwest Virginia within the next 10 years. However, a bill that would have made it state policy to promote the development and operation of SMRs and to establish an SMR pilot program – HB 2333 – failed to pass through the legislature.

Youngkin nevertheless remained optimistic: “I can’t wait until I watch that first small modular reactor turn on, and hospitals flip switches for their NICU units and senior living facilities turn the air conditioning on in the summertime, when it’s so hot. And yeah, parents and children turn the light on in the early morning, when it’s dark outside and have breakfast together. That’s going to be pretty awesome,” he said as he signed the bills into law, as reported by Susan Cameron in the Cardinal News.

Feasibility and supply chain

Two projects related to the potential deployment of SMRs are amongst a total of 17 projects announced by Youngkin as recipients under the Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grant awards for 2023.

The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, in partnership with independent subject matter experts, to examine the feasibility of developing multiple SMR site locations within the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (RIFA) has been selected to receive USD100,000 of Go Virginia funding. A second project by the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, in partnership with Lonesome Pine Regional RIFA, is to receive USD50,000 to prepare a regional SME manufacturing supply chain report which will be used to identify existing businesses for retooling and recruiting new businesses to provide the baseline for manufacturing jobs needed to support the SMR supply chain.

Source: World Nuclear News