RD674 - Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority 2019 Annual Report
Charge and Responsibilities
In 2013, the General Assembly created the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority (the Authority) as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth for the following purposes:
• Making Virginia a national and global leader in nuclear energy, science and technology;
• Serving as an interdisciplinary study, research and information resource for nuclear energy in Virginia; and
• Establishing the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (the Consortium), a non-stock corporation responsible for conducting activities to achieve these goals.
This, the Authority’s 2019 Annual Report, details its activities over the last year and offers strategic recommendations to advance nuclear energy in Virginia in 2020 and beyond.
Authority Activities in 2019
Since its establishment and organization in 2013, the Authority has worked diligently to:
• Set goals and define the responsibilities for the Authority and the Consortium;
• Recruit members to the Consortium, securing commitments from companies and higher education institutions;
• Maintain an annual inventory of nuclear education and industry assets in Virginia, illustrating that the nuclear sector is helping drive Virginia’s economy in every region, with high skilled jobs, research and technology development and generation of revenue at both the state and local level;
• Provide technical support and policy recommendations to the development of the Virginia Energy Plan and its biennial status updates;
• Provide information and expertise to stakeholders, elected and non-elected officials, and policymakers at all levels of government; and
• Establish the Authority as a convening body for information on the current state of the nuclear industry in the Commonwealth, nationwide and globally.
In 2019, the Authority and the Consortium worked together to set a path forward for support of nuclear energy in Virginia following the release of the Virginia Energy Plan which did not include recommendations for nuclear energy. This included coordinated activity to chart a specific direction which focused on the “Virginia is Nuclear" Summit in August.
The summit hosted by the Consortium and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) focused on workforce, infrastructure, and research & development as drivers of Virginia’s nuclear innovation. Attendees had an understanding of the state of the nuclear industry in the Commonwealth, both currently and, with an eye toward the future.
The summit focused on Virginia’s role as a leader in the nuclear industry and ways to ensure it remains a leader in advancing new nuclear technologies that could be developed here in the Commonwealth.
We are quickly entering a time of significant potential opportunity for nuclear energy and the Summit’s resulting recommendations will ensure that Virginia is positioned to grab that opportunity and maintain its position as a leader.
Strategic Recommendations for 2020 and Beyond
The Authority and the Consortium recommend the Governor and the Legislature support the following actions in 2020:
1. Define “Clean" and “Carbon Free" Energy
Currently, there is not a “clean energy" or “carbon-free energy" standard in the Code, despite it being in Virginia’s best interest to move toward energy sources with zero carbon emissions. The Code of Virginia should define “clean energy" or “carbon-free energy" as any energy source that has zero carbon emissions, such as nuclear or renewables (energy from sunlight, wind, falling water, biomass, waste, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, wave motion, tides, and geothermal power). Secondly, the code should direct the Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy (DMME) to give nuclear energy equal treatment to renewable energy sources as it pertains to clean or carbon-free energy initiatives, including economic development programs.
2. Prioritize Nuclear Energy
On September 17, 2019, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Number 43, which established the goal of producing “100 percent of Virginia’s electricity ... from carbon-free sources such as wind, solar and nuclear" by 2050. To do so, the General Assembly should direct the Secretary of Commerce & Trade, Secretary of Education, and the DMME to work in coordination with VNECA and the VEDP to develop a strategic plan for nuclear energy as part of the Commonwealth’s overall strategy for renewable and carbon-free energy.
3. Promote Nuclear Energy Infrastructure and the Capacity for Advanced Nuclear R&D
Work with the Authority, Consortium and VEDP to identify and implement specific programs to attract investment in new advanced nuclear such as; an advanced nuclear research center, university scholarship and R&D programs, small modular or advanced reactor projects, infrastructure for new nuclear development or exports and collaboration with national labs, ARPA-E and other universities.
4. Continue to Support Nuclear Energy Education and Workforce Development The Authority is grateful for the efforts of the Governor and legislature to establish the 17th Career Cluster around Energy. Next we should task the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), in conjunction with the Authority, with developing programs to support innovation in the nuclear industry and to promote education in fields that meet the future workforce demands of the nuclear industry, including manufacturing, nuclear medicine, energy production, and defense applications.