UPDATE: On Jan. 31, 2022, The West Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill and it is now headed to Gov. Justice’s desk. To read that article, click here.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia is opening its doors to the possibility of having nuclear power plants. Action in the State Senate moved that forward today.

The Mountain State is certainly well-known as a coal and natural gas state, but nuclear energy could be added to the mix.

On a vote of 24 to 7, with three members absent, the State Senate voted to repeal the 1996 ban on nuclear power plants.

The measure now moves on to the House of Delegates.

Critics are worried that a nuclear power plant creates the problem of what to do with nuclear waste. But supporters of nuclear power plants say having the option available is crucial in trying to get new companies to move here.

“It’s economic development. It’s an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy state. I’ve been exposed to many companies that’s come in and asked specifically about the nuclear moratorium in the state. So with that said, take it off,” said State Sen. Craig Blair, (R) Berkeley – Senate President, who voted yes to end the moratorium.

“I think the plants themselves are fairly safe. I am concerned about, as I said, what we do with the waste,” said State Sen. Hannah Geffert, (D) Berkeley, who voted no on repealing the ban.

Supporters of allowing nuclear power, say it will not be competing against the state’s coal industry.
They believe having multiple sources of electricity will make the state more attractive for other companies to move here, or to start a new business in West Virginia. Lifting the nuclear ban has strong support in the House of Delegates.

So far, no one has come forward saying they want to build a nuclear power plant in West Virginia, but state leaders want to be prepared. The last time a nuclear power plant went on-line in the United States was in 2016, in Tennessee.