The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is seeking public comment on whether to sell the much-discussed Bellefonte nuclear plant site, a 1,600-acre peninsula located on Guntersville Reservoir near Hollywood, Alabama.
TVA made the announcement Feb. 17, only days after filing papers with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) saying that it was withdrawing its combined construction and operating license (COL) application for new advanced reactors (Units 3 and 4) at the site.
TVA filed its paperwork with NRC withdrawing the COL applications Feb. 12. “Only Units 3 & 4 are affected. The licenses for Bellefonte Units 1 & 2 remain active and we continue to maintain the facility pending consideration of their future development,” a TVA spokesperson said in a Feb. 17 email to GenerationHub.
TVA had filed the application for the COLs for two advanced reactors with NRC in October 2007.
“Our most recent Integrated Resource Plan noted that the relatively minor forecasted growth in demand combined with the increased importance of energy efficiency programs means TVA is unlikely to need additional large sources of baseload power for the next 20 years,” the TVA representative added. “Since no construction activities have ever begun on Units 3 & 4, it was appropriate for us to remove those units from consideration at this time,” he added.
As for the potential sale, the TVA spokesperson stressed that “no decisions have been made. At some point in the future, the TVA board of directors will review the public comments along with any recommendations from TVA leadership to make a final decision.”
Johnson says TVA needs to weigh merits of generation, development
“As we consider this decision, it is important that we hear from interested stakeholders, potential site developers and the general public,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson. “TVA has been investing at a minimal level to preserve the Bellefonte site for future generating use, should we need it.”
“The 2015 Integrated Resource Plan, completed with public input, indicates it may be two decades before additional large baseload generation is needed,” he said. “It’s time we answer the question of whether TVA is serving the public well by retaining control of the Bellefonte site, or if others could make more beneficial use of it. And with economic development as a cornerstone of our mission, TVA wants to know if there is an entity interested in investing and creating jobs at this location.”
The public comment period runs through March 18.
A public comment period will run through March 18.
Once the public notice period ends, management and the TVA Board will review the comments, along with other pertinent information, to help decide whether to sell the property. If TVA’s Board of Directors declares the site surplus, TVA anticipates offering the property through a public auction process in accordance with Section 31 of the TVA Act.
TVA will accept written comments electronically and by conventional mail. Written comments should be sent to Sherry Quirk, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT-6, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902-1401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments also may be submitted on the project website at https://www.tva.com/bellefonte.
Questions may be directed to Gregory R. Signer, Associate General Counsel, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT-6A, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902-1401, by email at email@example.com or via phone at (865) 632-4131.
Bellefonte site includes much land, infrastructure
In addition to a nuclear plant use, some of the site infrastructure would support different uses including industrial, commercial and residential development. The site includes:
• Two partially constructed Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) pressurized light water reactors and associated facilities
• 500-kV and 161-kV switchyards
• Office buildings
• A training center
• Parking lots
• Railroad spurs
• A helicopter landing pad, and
• 1,600 acres of land.
The NRC recently noted in a blog posting that it has been using the mothballed Bellefonte nuclear site to teach basic reactor concepts to job trainees. The Bellefonte site is located only 65 miles away from NRC’s Technical Training Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.
TVA has been wrestling with what to do with Bellefonte, and its never-finished reactors, for years. Back in late 2013, TVA chief Johnson said “the need just isn’t there” for the power from a Bellefonte nuclear plant.
Work on the two-unit Bellefonte station began in 1974, but that effort was halted in the late 1980s for various reasons.
Over the years, TVA looked at everything from building a combined-cycle gas plant at Bellefonte to developing an ultra-modern “next generation” nuclear plant in connection with the NuStart consortium.
GenerationHub data indicates that there is currently 14 MW of oil-fired generation capacity currently located on the Bellefonte site.