Letter – Skeptical about Surry project

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I read the article titled “Data center, hydrogen fuel hub powered by small nuclear reactor to bring more than 2,000 new jobs to Surry.” While such is good news with a positive title, I was concerned and skeptical that the announcement might be premature. 

I called a county board member to ask for details. It was communicated that he was not told about the announcement prior to the press release, the project had not been discussed by all the board and he knew not much more than I. The reality, as I understand at the present, is that Green Energy Partners is a speculative developer that has signed a real property contract or option agreement. That’s all. 

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The green technology of using Small Modular Reactors is still in the development stage and only currently being used in China and Russia. So let’s be hopeful but realistic. It “may” bring 2,000 future jobs would have been a more accurate title. 

The reason the article hit me hard is that our county government is fairly good with press releases and sleight of hand. I am concerned that like a magician who wants you to look at their right hand, the reality is occurring with the left hand. In this case, the left hand is likely increasing our taxes again this year, which will mean an increase of over 25% recently for most citizens, many on fixed incomes. 

I want our local government to focus on controlling expenditures, keeping taxes affordable, work on keeping all board members and citizens informed, and work hard on inclusivity of all citizens. Let’s hope for the magician’s right hand but keep our focus on what the left hand is doing!


Michael H. Drewry