West Virginia to Work with Virginia on Nuclear Technology

October 18, 2022

Mountaineer News

WV State Technology

Virginia lawmakers and West Virginia lawmakers are in talks on how to collaborate on expanding nuclear energy and innovating nuclear technology.

Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced his new energy policy, which seeks to expand the state’s nuclear energy capabilities by constructing small modular nuclear reactors, also known as SMRs, to provide power. The state may work with its neighbor West Virginia on getting these reactors up and running.

“These units can be built on old coal mining sites, and we already know we have the skilled machinists, engineers, welders and fabricators who can support the nuclear industry,” West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said in a statement.

“Virginia has experience with nuclear already, and just as we locked arms with our border states to the north on shale gas development, we believe we are uniquely situated to collaborate to lead the way in this emerging economy,” the speaker continued, “and so together we are putting a serious focus on doing just that in the coming year.”

To date, Virginia has two nuclear power plants that contain four nuclear reactors, but West Virginia does not generate any energy from nuclear power. However, no state in the country uses SMRs at this time. SMRs would be about one-third the size and power of a regular nuclear reactor, but are expected to be less expensive and more easily replicated. Because of the lack of SMRs in the country, there’s still a lot of debate over the cost effectiveness of such a plan.

“Virginia has already [benefited] from nuclear power for many years,” Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said in a statement. “Nothing works harder, longer, safer or more reliably than a nuclear power plant.”

Hanshaw and Gilbert both met recently to discuss potential collaboration, but neither have released any specifics. They intend to consider policy proposals during their next legislative sessions, both of which begin in early January of next year.