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Seeking carbon-free power, Virginia utility considers small nuclear reactors

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Seeking carbon-free power, Virginia utility considers small nuclear reactors


Virginia’s largest utility said Wednesday that it will explore the possibility of using small nuclear reactors to help meet growing electricity demands while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear power has been emerging as an attractive option for states transitioning away from coal, oil and other fossil fuels. Proponents of a new generation of smaller reactors have said they’ll be cheaper and quicker to bring online.

There are no small modular reactors, known as SMRs, in operation in the U.S., according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent agency that oversees civilian uses of radioactive material.

A project to build the first SMR, in Idaho, was terminated last year following cost increases and a lack of subscribers. But a pilot project is underway in Tennessee, while Bill Gates and his energy company plan to build a commercial SMR plant in Wyoming.

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Dominion Energy Virginia said Wednesday that it has asked SMR companies to evaluate the feasibility of developing a project at the site of its existing North Anna nuclear power plant outside Richmond.

Speaking near its cooling towers, Dominion CEO Robert Blue said nuclear power already makes up 90% of Virginia’s carbon-free electricity. A new state law allows the company to explore the use of SMRs, with associated costs capped at $1.40 per month for a typical residential customer.

Blue said he expects the cost impact to be much lower. Dominion serves about 2.7 million customers in Virginia. It has been erecting solar farms and is installing a massive windfarm off the coast of Virginia Beach.

A 2020 state law set a target for 100% of Virginia’s electricity to come from carbon-free sources by 2050. Speaking at Wednesday’s news conference, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said it’s important to embrace new technologies for power generation.

“We can’t build enough wind,” Youngkin said. “We can’t build enough solar in order to power the Virginia of the future. We need all of the above.”

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A 2022 Associated Press survey of energy policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that a strong majority — about two-thirds — say nuclear will help replace fossil fuels.

But opponents, mostly in Democratic-led states, cite the cost of new reactors compared to installing wind turbines or solar panels, as well as safety concerns. There’s also the question of how to store hazardous nuclear waste.

Some environmentalists oppose small modular reactors for similar reasons. And a 2022 Stanford-led study found that SMRs will generate more waste than conventional reactors.

But interest in SMRs appears to be growing, even though one project was already canceled.

In January 2023, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified the first design for one from Oregon-based NuScale Power. The company worked with a group of Utah utilities to demonstrate a six-reactor plant at the Idaho National Laboratory, generating enough electricity to power more than 300,000 homes.

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But the project was terminated in November. Costs had increased by more than 50% in two years to $89 per megawatt hour. And it was unlikely that enough local power providers would subscribe for the project to continue.

Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the commission, said Wednesday that the NuScale Power design remains certified and is available for companies to consider. Meanwhile, the commission has other designs for other locations under review.

For example, NRC has granted a construction permit to Kairos Power, which is building a test version of an SMR in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Burnell said. It also submitted an application for a larger test version on the same site.

Burnell said another application is under review from the company TerraPower, which is chaired by Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. That project would use an SMR for a commercial power plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

“We have several other reactor designers who are talking to us about potentially applying, either for other construction permits or to have their designs generically approved,” Burnell said. “So there are a lot of other names (of companies) that are in discussions with us. But no formal applications at this point.”

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What invasive species are there in Virginia?

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What invasive species are there in Virginia?


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has created a list of invasive species in Virginia that people should be aware of.

The DCR has compiled a list of invasive species that can be found in Virginia. An invasive species is a plant, animal or pathogen that can harm the environment because they are non-native to the area. These species are not needed in our ecosystem in order for it to thrive, it’s more important to protect the native species of Virginia.

1. Feral swine

Nuisance animals in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (Getty Images)

Feral swine, also known as wild pigs, wild hogs or boars, originates from Europe. They were brought to the states by settlers and were used for food. Now, feral swine disrupt the ecosystem by damaging people’s crops, uprooting trees and wallowing in wetlands.

   2. Northern snakehead

An angler holds up an invasive Northern Snakehead caught in the tidal marshes of Southeast Virginia (Getty Images)

The northern snakehead is a type of fish that originates from Asia, more specifically, China, Russia and Korea. It’s predicted that they were introduced to America by fishermen for people who own exotic fish. This fish can lay up to 75,000 eggs a year and are fierce protectors of their nests.

   3. Spotted lanternfly

Close-up of Spotted Lanternfly (Getty Images)

The spotted lanternfly originates from China and Vietnam. They are an essential pollinator in Asia and wasps keep their population low. In the United States, they do not have any predators which makes their numbers grow. The spotted lanternfly is dangerous to our crops and native trees.

   4. Tree-of-heaven

The green leaves of the foul-smelling “Ailanthus altissima” tree (Getty Images)

The tree-of-heaven can grow up to 80 feet tall. The plant can grow quickly and release its seeds into the wind. It was brought to the United States as a decorative plant but the tree-of-heaven releases chemicals that can reduce the growth of plants around it.

   5. Wavyleaf grass

Oplismenus undulatifolius flowers. Poaceae perennial plants. Grows in clusters in the shade of trees in forests. The flowering period is from August to October (Getty Images).

Wavyleaf grass growth can become dense, this can cause seedlings on the forest ground to have restricted sunlight which disrupts their growth. This grass can spread by attaching itself to people or animals, so it is important to be aware if one has attached itself to you.

   6. Bradford pear tree

Bradford Pear tree (Getty Images)

Bradford pear trees, also known as Callery pear or ornamental pear, received this name because its shape perfectly resembles a pear. These trees are planted into people’s yards because of their gorgeous flowers and ability to grow quickly. However, the Bradford pear tree can spread its seeds effortlessly and they can restrict native trees by taking over areas.

   7. Two-horned trapa

Water chestnut or Trapa Bispinosa Roxb (Getty Images)

The two-horned trapa originates from Japan and East Asia. It has the ability to cover bodies of water which blocks the sunlight and harms the ecosystem. Water that is covered by two-horned trapa becomes unusable for recreational activities like boating and fishing.

   8. Imported fire ant

Close up of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) or simply RIFA (Getty Images)

The imported fire ant originates from South America it was accidentally introduced to the United States during the 1930s. It is harmful to crops and smaller animals by using its painful stinger.

  9. Emerald ash borer

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Oak splendour beetle, also known as the oak buprestid beetle (Agrilus) in its natural environment. A comon beetle (Getty Images).

The emerald ash borer is a beetle with a metallic-green look to it that harms the Virginia native ash tree. These trees do not have a natural defense, so it’s important to protect them from emerald ash borers and other species that can harm them. When buying firewood, it’s important to buy it close to where you’ll burn it. This helps prevent the spread of these invasive species.



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Some good, some bad for Best Virginia in 75-59 exhibition victory to prepare for TBT – WV MetroNews

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Some good, some bad for Best Virginia in 75-59 exhibition victory to prepare for TBT – WV MetroNews


BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — For stretches of Friday night’s exhibition at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Best Virginia looked like a team that had practiced only once in advance of its lone tune-up before beginning play in The Basketball Tournament next Saturday.

At other times, Best Virginia looked like a team plenty capable of making a deep run in TBT. 

Ultimately, the West Virginia University-alumni based squad overcame a slow start and sluggish third quarter for a 75-59 victory against a team of former college players, some of whom have ongoing professional careers overseas.

“Yesterday was our first practice. We all played for WVU and we have that chemistry a little bit, but these guys are all overseas players and have different roles when they go overseas,” said Best Virginia coach/general manager Chase Harler. “When they come back, we’re still kind of just finding our niche with that.”

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Donning BUHS jerseys, the opposing team was largely put together by Buckhannon native Tanner McGrew.

McGrew played for the Buccaneers and went on to have a decorated Division II career at West Virginia Wesleyan. He parlayed that into a professional career and previously played for Best Virginia in TBT, though on this night, he often found himself matched up with former Mountaineers Sagaba Konate and Jonathan Holton.

Both teams struggled offensively in the opening quarter and Best Virginia was scoreless for the game’s first 3-plus minutes, but managed to lead 11-7 through the first of four 9-minute frames.

Harler’s team put together what was easily its best quarter in the second when six of seven players scored, allowing BV to create separation and enter halftime with a 42-20 lead. Five of the team’s 13 field goals in that frame were three-pointers, including one from forward Esa Ahmad as part of his 13-point opening half. 

“We have a ways to go, but we had one day of practice before playing the game. We’re still getting a feel for each other, but overall, we know how to play basketball,” Ahmad said. “It’s going to take a couple days, but I feel like we’re going to be good.”

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Two of the remaining four triples in the second quarter were provided by Xavier Bledson, the only Best Virginia player present Friday with no WVU ties. Bledson won the Missouri Valley Conference Sixth Man of the Year last season for his efforts with Indiana State.

Guard Marcus Keene is the other Best Virginia player to never play for the Mountaineers, though Keene, fellow guard Tarik Phillip and post player Devin Williams were not with the team Friday, though Harler indicated each of the three will be in Morgantown for practice Monday.

“Devin Williams, Marcus Keene and Tarik Phillip will be huge additions to our team,” Harler said.

Best Virginia saw its lead significantly dwindle within the first few minutes of the third quarter and former Fairmont Senior all-state guard Darhius Nunn was a major reason why.

Nunn played collegiately at Glenville State and Palm Beach Atlantic and plays professionally in France. He started his 13-point frame with a four-point play. After three two-point field goals, Nunn made his second trey of the frame and one of his six for the game as he easily led all players with 29 points.

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McGrew chipped in with seven points in the third, while Zakeem Davis, a former Morgantown High player, added five to help cut Best Virginia’s lead to 49-44 at one point, though it grew to 56-47 entering the fourth.

“One thing we could do better with was our defensive IQ,” Harler said. “We gave up a lot of layups and easy shots where defense needs to be our M.O. We have a full week of practice coming up and we’ll work on that.”

The teams agreed to an Elam Ending following the first stoppage of play inside the 4-minute mark of the fourth quarter, at which time Best Virginia led 67-57.

The Elam Ending, which takes place in every TBT game, adds eight points to the leading team’s score as the target score for both teams.

Though the lead was cut to eight moments after the game went to an Elam Ending, Best Virginia finished it off with eight consecutive points, including a triple from Bledson and another from guard Taz Sherman that wrapped up the win.

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Ahmad led Best Virginia’s five double-figure scorers with 19 points. Holton added 12 and Bledson, Wesley Harris and Teyvon Myers scored 10 apiece. Sherman and Konate chipped in with eight and six points, respectively.

McGrew scored 11 to provide his team with a second double-figure scorer.

“This was great. It’s tough. I’m the general manager, too, so I’m making decisions and setting up events and what not,” Harler said. “I have a great team behind me. The least stressful thing I have to do is coach. We have a good group of guys that compete. This was the first game and maybe these guys haven’t played 5-on-5 in a while.”

Best Virginia opens TBT on July 20 at 3 p.m. against Brotherly Love at Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.



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Virginia pastor accused of hitting wife on flight after her 1st class upgrade

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Virginia pastor accused of hitting wife on flight after her 1st class upgrade


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia pastor faces federal charges after authorities say he struck his epileptic wife in the head on a flight to Alaska.

Williamsburg resident Roger Holmberg Sr., 75, told authorities he was upset that his wife had been upgraded to first class, according to an FBI affidavit.

The incident led to the victim, who’s been married to Holmberg for about a year and a half after the death of Holmberg’s previous wife, telling law enforcement about other alleged abuse.

The incident happened on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage on July 2, while the couple were en route to an event related to Holmberg’s ministry, according to the affidavit.

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Two witnesses spoke to law enforcement about the incident. One said Holmberg swung on the victim after he asked her “How the [expletive] did you get the upgrade?” The victim replied “I’m [a] gold point member. Don’t speak to me like that.”

The victim then relayed to authorities what she told that witness, that Holmberg had a history of abusing her and even broke the victim’s finger in an incident last September, the affidavit reads. The victim also said Holmberg knew she had epilepsy and that hitting her head could cause a seizure.

The victim added that she’d been wanting to report Holmberg’s alleged abuse, but had yet to do so until the plane incident.

When interviewed by police, Holmberg said he “tapped” his wife on the head to get her attention, and that he wasn’t a violent person. He said the couple had been going to marriage counseling and said she had anger issues.

He said he broke her finger after she grabbed his leg while he was driving, according to the affidavit. He also accused her of previously grabbing his genitals “with such force that he was in pain.”

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Holmberg was arrested by law enforcement after the incident and charged with simple assault, and taken to the Anchorage Correctional Center. He could face a fine and/or prison time up to six months if convicted.

Holmberg lists himself as the pastor of Grace Baptist Temple, an independent Baptist church in Anchorage, and as “Alaska’s #1 Gospel Singer.“

Records show Holmberg’s been in the Williamsburg area since fall of 2023.



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