September 17, 2015
Contact: April Wade
[email protected]

Arlington, VA – The Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (VNEC), the newly-formed organization founded to promote Virginia’s important nuclear industry, today announced its leadership team and unveiled its Web site, Long-time industry veteran Marshall Cohen will serve as Executive Director while Ali Haghighat, professor of nuclear engineering, Virginia Tech, will serve as Chairman of the Board.

Under authority created by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Bob McDonnell in 2013, the Consortium seeks to promote Virginia’s nuclear industry by collaborating across the public and private sectors on all aspects of the state’s multi-billion dollar nuclear field.

“From commercial generation to university research, nuclear supply chain and supporting our nuclear Navy, Virginia has a long and deep relationship with nuclear energy, benefitting from thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in taxes and economic contributions,” said VNEC Chairman Ali Haghighat, Professor; Director of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Nuclear Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, NCR campus, Arlington, VA. “The goal of the consortium is to facilitate partnership among industry, university and government agencies, promote and engage in research and educational activities, and participate in public education and policy for the Commonwealth, building on Virginia’s success to ensure it remains a national and global leader in nuclear energy.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe lauded the consortium’s announcement, saying, “This partnership benefits Virginians by ensuring the public sector and private sector work together in a safe and responsible way to advance nuclear energy. VNEC is a unique, and innovative program whose success will be an example other states can follow.”

Marshall Cohen, a Principal at Public Affairs Strategies, LLC, brings a great depth of industry experience to the job, having recently retired from Babcock & Wilcox, as the Vice President of Government Relations and Communications. He previously served as Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and as the Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs, for Louisiana Energy Services (now URENCO), a uranium enrichment company.

“I am excited to help VNEC’s work to advance nuclear energy for commercial, government, and research applications,” said Cohen. “As the Environmental Protection Agency has just indicated nuclear will be a critical part of America’s clean energy future and Virginia is leading the way.”

One of the Consortium’s first priorities will be the strengthening of nuclear industry jobs and opportunities for Virginians.  “We look forward to working with Governor McAuliffe’s Workforce Commission to strengthen craft labor, research and engineering job opportunities to keep this vital workforce moving forward”, Cohen said.

Founding Members of the consortium are AREVA Inc., BWX Technologies, Inc., Dominion Resources Services, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Newport News Shipbuilding, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech University. The board will guide VNEC as it seeks to develop public-private partnerships for such issues as workforce development and training, grant and research funding, economic development, and policy formulation.

To begin educating Virginians on the benefits of nuclear power and the resources available for job training and workforce needs, VNEC also announced the launch of their website at The site, which will continue to grow as an information source, contains facts about Virginia’s nuclear industry; including power generation, research at Virginia’s institutions of higher education, and the critical role nuclear plays in national security and the future of clean energy.

– ### –

The Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (VNEC) seeks to promote the benefits of nuclear energy and opportunities available for public and private entities to develop partnerships to advance the industry and the commonwealth. To learn more about VNEC please go to