Haney wins bidding contest for abandoned nuclear plant

Haney wins bidding contest for abandoned nuclear plant

Former Chattanooga developer wants to finish Bellefonte plant

November 14th, 2016 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

An unfinished nuclear power plant in northeast Alabama.

An unfinished nuclear power plant in northeast Alabama.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

HOLLYWOOD, Ala. — Chattanooga developer Franklin L. Haney, who has spent the past decade trying to acquire TVA's Bellefonte Nuclear Power plant, emerged today as the winner at an auction of the abandoned nuclear plant.

Haney, who organized an investment group known as Nuclear Development LLC, agreed to pay $111 million to acquire the abandoned twin-reactor complex and the 1,600 acres it occupies along the Tennessee River here.

Haney said he hopes to finish Bellefonte, creating between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary construction jobs, and an estimated 2,000 full-time jobs once both reactors become operational.

Haney and his delegation, which included former Alabama Congressman Bud Cramer, declined to outline any schedule for restarting work on the plant or when it might generate power.

"Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee," Haney said in a statement after today's auction. "The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region — many of which have been hit hard by the forced closure of coal power plants over the last decade."

TVA gave up on finishing the two Babcock and Wilcox reactors here after determining it won't need more base load power for at least the new two decades.

But Cramer said Haney is confident more carbon-free power will be needed in the future.

"Mr. Haney is a smart investor and he knows what he is doing," Cramer said after today's auction.

Haney won out over one other bidder, Jackson Holdings of Alabama LLC, which represented investors wanted to use the unfinished reactor for a plant in India, according to Aaron Abadi, CEO of the National Environmental Group in New York City.

TVA spokesman Scott Fiedler said a total of 15 companies expressed interest in the 1,600-acre site during pre-auction marketing, but only three ultimately qualified for the auction and only two showed up here today for the bidding.

Phoenix Energy of Nevada, which had proposed trying to build a new type of energy development at the plant, did not bid.

"We weren't able to put the financing in place in time," said Brian Smith, managing partner for Phoenix Energy.

TVA Chairman Joe Ritch said today that he is pleased with the sale.

"It's good for TVA and good for Jackson County," Ritch said.

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press