some text
Staff File Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson The two cooling towers at TVA's Bellefonte nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Ala., tower 500 feet above the ground.

Electricity from TVA will cost more come October.

TVA's board today unanimously approved a 2 percent rate increase effective Oct. 1.

The increase is to help the utility to cover a $234 million shortfall in its fiscal 2012 budget.

The rate increase will amount to about $1.60 on the average residential bill.

The action came after the board had earlier voted unanimously to restart construction on the half, finished, mothballed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Hollywood, Ala.

That action by the board followed the board's listening to about 70 speakers who either supported or opposed nuclear power and the completion of Bellefonte.

The board of the Tennessee Valley Authority unanimously authorized the licensing and completion of construction and operation of unit 1 at Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.

some text
This file photo of April 2007, released by the Tennessee Valley Authority, shows the cooling tower of the single operating reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn.

The plant construction will not begin until Watts Bar unit 2 is complete, likely in 2013.

Bellefonte will generate 1260 megawatts - enough to power 750,000 Tennessee Valley homes.

The plant construction will create 2,800 jobs. Its operation will create 650 jobs.

Board Chairman Dennis Bottorff called the vote the "right thing to do."

Board member Mike Duncan said the decision was a difficult one. "From the changes after Fukushima to the red rating (on Browns Ferry) to the changes of (TVA) personnel, all these things were red flag to me that we should slow this thing down, but the staff and advisers brought me around."

To date since the plant was started nearly four decades ago, it has cost more than $4 billion. TVA has estimated it will cost another $4 billion to $5 billion to complete it.

The TVA board today also voted to extend for 20 years the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant operating license, acquire Magnolia combined cycle gas plant and put new scrubbers on Allen and Gallatin fossil plants.

Chairman Bottorff thanked the many speakers in the morning "listening session" after hearing more than two hours of comments from anti-nuclear activists, concerned citizens and dozens of northeast Alabama local government and utility officials who supported the plant and the jobs it will bring.

"IIt just shows how important this subject is," Bottorff said. "We do listen to what you say."

A handful of protesters outside didn't think so.

Chris Irwin, an attorney with United Mountain Defense, wore a suit and painted zombie face.

Mark Homer, dressed as Benjamin Franklin, said the TVA was denying them free speech rights by not allowing them inside in their costumes. Another protester wore a Santa Claus suit.

"I'm concerned about the nuclear waste. Nobody wants it. There's nothing to do with it," Homer said.

Once long-haired United Mountain Defense activist Matt Landon, arrested at least once by TVA police in Kingston after the ash spill, addressed the board in a suit and with a lawyerly-looking haircut.

some text
From left, Wenona Kunesh, Isabelle McCurdy, Sophie McCurdy march July 20 with other anti-nuclear protesters in front of the TVA building in Chattanooga to demonstrate against the proposed development of nuclear plants. Zombie and other costumes will not be allowed at Thursday's TVA board meeting in Knoxville.

He urged the board not to approve Bellefonte's completion, and took TVA to task for its no-costume policy adopted to keep protesters dressed as zombies from swamping the meeting.

"But, I'm sorry, when I was outside earlier I was bitten by a zombie so ..."

He rubbed his head and rumpled his hair to make it stand on end. Then he began to growl.

He was escorted out of the meeting by TVA police.

Connect with the Times Free Press on Facebook