NORTON, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made several stops through Southwest Virginia on Friday, beginning the day in Norton.

While there, Youngkin announced his intent to propose $10 million in the state’s upcoming budget to create the “Virginia Power Innovation Fund.” The fund would allow for the development of energy technology, including nuclear power.

“Today, I am pleased to propose a $10 million investment in the upcoming budget to turn Virginia into a leader in energy innovation,” said Youngkin. “With technologies like carbon capture and utilization, and resources like critical minerals, hydrogen, and nuclear, we will make Virginia the epicenter for reliable and affordable energy innovation.”   

Half of that proposed amount would go toward growing Virginia’s nuclear industry. The Virginia Nuclear Innovation Hub was first made known to the public earlier in October, when Youngkin released the state’s energy plan. The plan made mention of plans to install Small Nuclear Reactor (SMR) technology in Southwest Virginia.

Youngkin spoke to media at a former mine site in Norton and said the location is just one example of a possible location for an SMR or other form of energy facility. Southwest Virginia is dotted with abandoned mines and former coalfield locations, which Youngkin said will make prime spots for potential energy sites.

“I have proudly represented the people of Southwest Virginia in the General Assembly for nearly 30 years, and I know the promise that exists in our towns, hills, and valleys. Governor Youngkin’s Energy Plan recognizes this promise and envisions a future for Southwest that capitalizes on our talents and history to place Southwest Virginia on the cutting edge of the energy future,” said House Majority Leader Delegate Terry Kilgore in a news release. 

State leaders say the Nuclear Innovation Hub will both create new business and education opportunities as local colleges will have the means to train students in the use and study of SMRs and other forms of energy.

An exact location of the hub has not been announced yet, but Southwest Virginia appears to be the prime place to house it, in the eyes of state officials.

“Here’s a fact: Southwest Virginia has been and always will be about energy,” Kilgore told News Channel Friday morning.

One aspect of Youngkin’s energy plan involves a partnership with the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority.

Youngkin said Friday that the entirety of the plan is predicted to take 10 years to complete, but he believes it could be in effect sooner.

“I’ve heard from some friends that that 10-year timeline’s one that we can beat, and I’m looking forward to setting milestones that beat it,” Youngkin said.