As the Tennessee Valley Authority reviews options for its power generation network, it soon will decide whether to shut down old coal-fired units and determine how many nuclear units to build, says Tom Kilgore, the federal power producer’s CEO.

TVA has a goal of producing half its power with clean energy sources by 2020. Its plan is to focus on construction of nuclear generation and increased energy efficiency, Kilgore says. The utility has 59 units in its coal-fired fleet, 17 with scrubbers installed, but the remaining 42 are candidates for retirement, Kilgore says. A number have selective catalytic reduction equipment, but they may still need upgraded technology, he says.

The agency is studying each unit for reliability, power production costs and life expectancy as well as costs to add the cleanest technology, Kilgore says. Many units are 50 years old. Unit retirement also will depend on load growth, the potential addition of gas-fired plants and how much nuclear generation TVA adds, he notes. At the Bellefonte site in Alabama, TVA is debating whether to complete a partially built nuclear unit or build a new Westinghouse unit. “We will absolutely do something,” Kilgore says. TVA shut down construction of two nuclear units at Bellefonte in 1988. One was 90% complete, the other 58% complete.

TVA still is interested in building a unit at Bellefonte with the six-member NewStart group but won’t obligate itself until it evaluates completing the partially built unit, Kilgore says. TVA is still “actively participating” in discussions to demonstrate the new proprietary Babcock & Wilcox mPower small modular nuclear reactor, but with a partner, he adds. “It will depend on the license conditions and participation by others, possibly the U.S. Dept. of Energy,” he says.