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Dominion Energy is taking a critical first step toward bringing a new type of nuclear technology to Virginia, saying if it happens, it will be next after the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant in Louisa County.

The utility is inviting about half a dozen companies developing small modular reactors – power plants less than a third the size of North Anna – to submit proposals for a small reactor at North Anna.

While it is not a commitment to build a small reactor at North Anna, it is an important first step, Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Robert M. Blue said Wednesday at the bill’s signing ceremony. It would allow the utility to ask State Corporation Commission regulators to approve a surcharge to cover the costs of developing a small modular reactor.

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Bob Blue, Chairman and CEO of Dominion Energy

Blue


MIKE KROPF/TIMES-DISPATCH


Dominion intends to apply for the contract, Blue said.

While the law allows a charge of up to $1.40 per month for a typical 1,000-kilowatt-hour bill—a bill that currently totals $138—Blue expects any surcharges to be significantly lower.

By inviting proposals from project developers, the institute can examine about half a dozen different options currently available for reactors with a capacity of 250 to 400 megawatts – enough to power 62,500 to 100,000 homes.

This assessment will include the state of construction technology, operational flexibility, construction schedules, supply chain availability and the ability to obtain necessary licenses and permits, company officials said.

In addition, the proposals would include a detailed review of the feasibility of the North Anna power plant site, including water supplies and how the reactor could be connected to Dominion’s power grid.

The company hopes to have a small modular reactor in operation by 2033.







Governor Glenn Youngkin

Youngkin


Margo Wagner, TIMES-DISPATCH


“Today we celebrate a milestone that marks the first commercial start-up of a small nuclear reactor in the state of Virginia,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin following Blue’s announcement.

He said small modular reactors are an exciting option because they can be manufactured more on an assembly line than multi-billion dollar plants like North Anna, meaning lower costs.

“Ultimately, Virginia needs more power … we don’t have enough wind, we don’t have enough solar. To power Virginia, we need the Chesterfield gas-fired power plant, we need small modular reactors,” he said, referring to Dominion’s proposal to build a 1,000-megawatt plant that would kick in when electricity demand peaks. He said developing hydrogen as a fuel for power plants and technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the air and from emissions are also key factors in what Virginia needs to do to combat climate change.

The proposal for a gas-fired power plant in Chesterfield has faced strong opposition from environmentalists, who say it violates the Virginia Clean Economy Act and its goal of having Dominion stop burning fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2045. Some Chesterfield residents also protested the company’s plans to build the new plant on or near the site of its gas and oil plant in the county, saying the new facility would pose a public health threat.

Some environmentalists have called Youngkin’s call for a “moon flight” to bring the nation’s first commercial small modular reactor online a distraction from Virginia’s need to expand wind and solar power generation, arguing that the technology is too new and unproven.

Ontario Power Generation, owned by the province of Ontario, is building four small nuclear reactors at its power plant in Darlington, Ontario. OPC expects its first small modular reactor to come online in 2029.

Earlier this week, Dominion announced that it is acquiring a lease for an offshore wind farm just south of its $9 billion Atlantic offshore wind farm, 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The lease aims to further expand its renewable energy generation capacity.