TVA wants to finish original Bellefonte reactor

The staff of the Tennessee Valley Authority is recommending that one of the original reactors at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant be finished in the next decade at a projected cost of up to $4 billion.

In the final environmental assessment of the unfinished twin-reactor plant in Alabama, TVA concludes that completing the Unit 1 reactor at Bellefonte would be cheaper than pursuing the alternative of building a next generation reactor on the same site.

Bellefonte was once targeted as the pioneer site for the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, but Plant Vogtle in Georgia is now first in line for that new design and TVA wants to put off building such a new reactor.

In the environmental impact statement released this month, TVA estimates it will need another 7,500 megawatts of power by 2020 to make up for growth in the Tennessee Valley and also needs to shut down some of its aging coal fleet.

"Completing a nuclear unit is one option that would help us meet our customers' growing needs and provide a reliable and safe power source at significantly less cost per installed kilowatt than other generation options," TVA Senior Vice President Ashok Bhatnagar said today. "At the same time, additional nuclear generation leads to a reduction of our carbon footprint."

Anti-nuclear activists on Monday said Bellefonte was designed and built decades ago and some key equipment was gutted from the plant in 2006 when TVA initially decided to scrap the reactor.

TVA started work on Bellefonte in 1974 but halted construction on the Unit 1 reactor in 1988 when the demand for new power slowed.

"TVA simply doesn't need to take the risk and spend the money for this plant if it would do more to encourage energy conservation," said Louise Gorenflo, a member of the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team and one of the members of TVA's task force helping prepare the utility's power plans for the future.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press