Types of nuclear reactors. Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants Virginia to build a small modular reactor in Southwest Virginia. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy.
Types of nuclear reactors. Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants Virginia to build a small modular reactor in Southwest Virginia. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy.

Two grants totaling $150,000 have been awarded to the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission for site and supply chain studies related to the small modular nuclear reactor proposed for Southwest Virginia.

A grant for $100,000 will be used to “examine the feasibility of developing multiple Small Modular Reactor site locations,” while the second grant for $50,000 will be used to pay for an SMR supply chain analysis, according to a news release from Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The projects were two of 17 that received more than $8.1 million in the most recent round of GO Virginia awards focused on creating talent pipelines and accelerating economic growth, Youngkin said.

The grants represent the first real public signs of steps being taken toward establishing an SMR in the coalfields region. Last October and again on Thursday, Youngkin vowed that Virginia will be the first state to launch an SMR in the United States, and he said it will be located in Southwest Virginia.

PBS show set in Danville nominated for regional Emmy

The PBS show that brings famous musicians to Danville has been nominated for a Capital Emmy award.

“The Life of a Musician,” created by Danville resident Brandon Adams, features famous acoustic artists in historic locations around the city. 

The first of the show’s two seasons is a contender in the “Interview/Discussion” category. 

“There couldn’t be people who are more shocked than us,” Adams said about the nomination, adding that his team never considered the possibility of winning an award when they created the show.

Adams said he’s especially proud of the nomination because of its category. 

“The fact that they felt like the conversation and the content of those conversations, along with the music, was worthy of recognition, that makes me happy,” he said. “At the end of the day, they thought it’s a good conversation. There’s good content here. It’s not just throwaway TV.”

In most episodes of the show, Adams converses with a famous musician, and then the two play a few songs together. In a few episodes, which Adams calls house concerts, the musician plays a live show in an intimate setting with no question-and-answer portion. 

Featured musicians have included John Jorgenson, guitarist for Sting, Elton John and Bob Dylan, who appeared in the first season, and Redd Volkaert, lead guitarist for Merle Haggard’s band The Strangers, who appeared in the second season. 

Episodes have been filmed in locations across the city and have featured featured local businesses like The Dog-Eared Page, a downtown bookstore, as well as historic homes. 

Adams said the nomination is still surreal, and he’s trying not to focus on it too much. 

“I’m still just mowing my lawn and petting my cat,” he said. “Pretending like it isn’t happening. … If we get submitted for a nomination for season two, I’ll take it seriously.”

— Grace Mamon

SMRs are smaller, simpler versions of traditional nuclear reactors and would produce about a third of the power produced by the big reactors. They have been touted as a safe and efficient way to generate zero-carbon electricity, although concerns have been raised about the waste and some say they are risky and unproven.

The governor has said the SMR would likely be located on a former coal mine site in Southwest Virginia, although no specific sites have been discussed. LENOWISCO serves the counties of Lee, Scott and Wise and the city of Norton.

For the SMR site feasibility study, LENOWISCO will work with “independent subject matter experts” to examine developing multiple locations within the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority’s geographic footprint, the news release states. That footprint covers the same area as LENOWISCO, plus Dickenson County.

The SMR supply chain analysis will be done by LENOWISCO in partnership with the Lonesome Pine authority. They will prepare a report that will be used to identify “existing businesses for retooling and recruiting new businesses to provide the basis for manufacturing jobs needed to support the small modular reactor supply chain,” according to the release.

Duane Miller, LENOWISCO’s executive director, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment late Friday.

All of the projects awarded grants will support the growth of select industries across the commonwealth by training and connecting talent to employers, supporting entrepreneurs seeking to start companies and creating supportive economic environments for the targeted industries to grow, the release states.

Susan Cameron is a reporter for Cardinal News. She has been a newspaper journalist in Southwest Virginia...