Appalachian Voices statement on 2022 Virginia Energy Plan

October 5, 2022

Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices Virginia Policy Director,, (434) 249-6446

On Monday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin released the latest version of the Virginia Energy Plan. The plan is updated every four years, and this version is organized by five guiding principles: reliability, affordability, competition, innovation and environmental stewardship.

Included in the plan is the governor’s “moonshot” goal to develop a plan for Southwest Virginia to host a small modular nuclear reactor within the next 10 years. The plan calls for restoration of State Corporation Commission authority over Virginia’s investor-owned monopoly utilities and removal of barriers to distributed energy resources like shared solar—policies Appalachian Voices has long supported. The plan also calls for “reauthorization” of Virginia’s landmark clean energy law, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, as well as a repeal of Virginia’s clean vehicles standard and a loosening of other clean energy standards.

It favors expensive and unproven technologies with significant community risks such as small modular nuclear reactors, biogas and hydrogen electricity generation, while questioning proven wind and solar and touting the benefits of climate-warming, community-disrupting and expensive methane gas.

Statement from Regional Director of Community and Economic Development Adam Wells:
“Southwest Virginia has a proud history of energy generation, and the Energy Plan emphasizes new possibilities for the region. However, as with any energy technology, it is critical that community health and safety be considered alongside other impacts, and that the public have meaningful opportunities to shape our energy landscape. The governor’s goal of locating an unproven, expensive nuclear reactor in this region seems to gloss over the health and waste impacts of such a facility and the need for robust public engagement and study, while underestimating the solar and battery storage options already taking shape. Clean energy, including solar on brownfields like abandoned coal mines, presents significant and proven opportunities for Southwest Virginia to contribute to Virginia’s energy future. Ultimately, energy production should restore wealth to Southwest Virginia and protect the ecology of the region, rather than extracting from it.”

Statement from Virginia Policy Director Peter Anderson:
“Appalachian Voices has long advocated for bipartisan reforms to our electric utility regulation model that will work better for customers, as Virginia pursues a clean, affordable, and reliable energy system. However, now is the time to raise — not lower — our clean energy ambitions.”