The Tennessee Valley Authority ended the possibility of completing two partially built nuclear units in Alabama on May 5, when its board voted to declare as surplus and for sale the 1,600-acre Bellefonte site. “No large-scale base-load units will be needed for 20 years,” TVA CEO William Johnson told the board. Demand from the federal power producer’s customers set a 20-year record low in December. TVA expects the recently completed 1150-MW unit at Watts Bar,Tenn., to come on line in the summer, he said.
TVA’s board had approved—in 2011, when a long-term plan said the capacity was needed by 2020—completion of one of Bellefonte’s partially built, 1260-MW light-water reactors at an estimated $4.9-billion cost. But the unit was not included in the 2015 plan, which forecast power demand to grow by just 1% a year. Work on the two units—90% and 58% complete, respectively—halted in 1988. “Rather than sitting on [a] site that we might need to develop in about 20 years, we [will] determine a better use for it,” said Sherry Quirk, executive vice president. Developers have shown interest in the site, appraised at $36.4 million, but more environmental review is needed, she noted.
Gov. Robert Bentley (R) said a private developer is interested in finishing the units but did not identify the company. Michael Dooley, managing partner of Phoenix Energy of Nevada LLC, made an offer to TVA on May 7 to use induction-energy-field technology to generate power at the site. Developing the site will cost about $300 million, he said. TVA seeks, by June 30, interest from renewable-energy firms to provide power by late 2020. TVA’s plans call for up to 800 MW of large-scale solar power by 2023 and up to 3,800 MW by 2033, as well as up to 1,750 MW of wind power by 2033 or earlier, depending on prices. But TVA has not given up on nuclear generation. On May 12, it expects to file permits with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for two or more small modular reactors, up to 800 MW each, at its Clinch River, Tenn., site.