RD675 - Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority 2022 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

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 nonstock corporation responsible for conducting activities to achieve these goals.

This, the Authority’s 2022 Annual Report, details its activities over the last year and offers strategic recommendations to advance nuclear energy in Virginia in 2023 and beyond.

Authority Activities in 2022

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.

Following the 2019 “Virginia is Nuclear" Summit, the 2020 General Assembly approved several pieces of legislation that highlighted many of the goals the Authority hoped to achieve. Key legislation included the passing of SB 828 defining carbon-free and clean energy that included nuclear. Additional legislation, SB 817 and HB 1303, tasked the Authority and VNEC to work in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Energy and the Secretaries of Commerce and Trade and Education to develop a strategic plan for nuclear energy as part of the Commonwealth’s overall goal of carbon-free energy.

In 2020 as a response to the direction from the Legislature the Strategic Plan for Nuclear was developed. The strategic recommendations included in the plan are the roadmap for action in the Commonwealth through 2024. They remain relevant as the process for implementation moves forward.

In 2021, Virginia took a significant step forward in pursuit of the strategic activities with the inclusion of the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Planning Grant for the purpose of developing a proposal to create a nuclear research and innovation hub in Virginia -- continuing to pursue recommendations from the strategic plan to ensure Virginia maintains its leadership position in nuclear technology.

In 2022, Governor Youngkin signed HB 894 directing the industry to “convene a stakeholder work group to identify strategies and any needed public policies, including statutory or regulatory changes, for promoting the development of advanced small modular reactors in the Commonwealth." VNECA tasked VNEC to take the lead in bringing together participants from across the nuclear industry to develop objectives and recommendations to promote and develop advanced nuclear technologies in the Commonwealth. The Working Group kicked off in July to set strategic direction.

Strategic Recommendations for 2023 and Beyond

The Authority and the Consortium recommend the Governor and the Legislature support the following actions in 2023:

1. Support for Small Modular or other Advanced Reactors
In line with the “moonshot" goal included the Virginia Energy Plan the legislature should consider any and all ways to support deployment of a new nuclear reactors in Southwest Virginia within 10 years and additional suitable locations to follow.

2. Workforce Development and Innovation
To ensure that education and training programs are providing the necessary educational and work-based knowledge required to meet the demands of tomorrow’s nuclear energy workforce. This should include support for the Virginia Innovative Nuclear Hub.

3. Carbon Roadmap
Developing a roadmap for deployment of economical and technically feasible electricity sources needed to meet actual electrical demand profiles and carbon-fee energy plan targets.

4. Generation Targets
Establishing a nuclear energy generation target if it is in the interest of the Commonwealth’s long-term clean energy goal.

5. Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Promote diversity and inclusion in STEM Disciplines in order to shift the patterns of representation – addressing ways to change the STEM culture to be more welcoming and inclusive of diverse cultures and backgrounds.