TVA to file early site permit for SMR

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to submit an early site permit application for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in May 2016 with an eye toward potential development of two or more small modular reactors (SMRs).

That’s one of the nuclear power updates that TVA included in its 10-Q quarterly reported filed May 3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The early site submittal is based on the development of a plant parameter envelope reflecting application for units at TVA’s Clinch River site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the federal utility said.

TVA is considering the four SMR designs under development in the United States and will evaluate the designs and vendors for the SMR technology.

TVA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have entered into an interagency agreement to jointly fund licensing activities for the Clinch River site with DOE reimbursement of up to 50% of TVA’s eligible costs through 2020.

TVA is developing the Clinch River site on a schedule that supports submittal of a combined construction and operating license (COL) application in 2019, in conjunction with supporting NRC’s review of the early site permit.

This submittal is subject to sufficient progress being made by potential SMR vendors with their design certifications, and a TVA decision to select a specific SMR technology and proceed with development of a COL application in 2017. A decision to build a SMR will need TVA Board approval, the utility noted.

TVA has said in its recent resource plan that it does not foresee a need for significant baseload electric generation soon, beyond what’s already in the pipeline. That’s one reason why TVA is looking at selling its Bellefonte nuclear plant site in Alabama.

Sale of the Bellefonte site is expected to be discussed by TVA board members at their upcoming meeting. TVA has been discussing the idea of incremental nuclear generation via SMRs for a few years now. TVA has previously indicated that it sees SMRs as a new generation option for the 2030s.

TVA also noted in its 10Q that it plans to bring online the Watts Bar 2 nuclear facility in Tennessee this summer. TVA received its long-sought operating license for the 1,150-MW nuclear unit last fall and has already loaded fuel into the reactor.

TVA also reported in the SEC filing that it has been spending significantly on security-related improvements to its plants inspired by the Fukushima disaster in Japan. TVA has spent $242m on such upgrades as of March 2016 and it expects to spend another $40m on this effort.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at