The Tennessee Valley Authority has issued the final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the generation options for its Bellefonte site in north Alabama. The utility favours completing the partially built Bellefonte 1 reactor over constructing a new Westinghouse AP1000 unit at the site.
“TVA staff identified the completion and operation of a single 1260 MW Babcock and Wilcox nuclear unit at the Bellefonte site, as the preferred alternative,” according the SEIS.
The decision has been made following four studies on environmental impacts, power supply needs, cost and schedule estimates and project completion risks. A remaining study to evaluate the financing options needed to support construction still needs to be completed.
"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," said Ashok Bhatnagar, senior vice president of TVA's Nuclear Generation Development and Construction.
No decision to build any new generating capacity at the Bellefonte site has been made at this time. TVA directors are expected to make a decision on the proposed nuclear unit at a meeting scheduled for 20 August. The utility is also in the process of developing an Integrated Resource Plan to help identify regional electricity needs over the next two years. TVA says it anticipates using a mix of resources, including energy efficiency and demand response programmes, renewables, natural gas-fired generation and nuclear power.
Should TVA decide to proceed with completion of Bellefonte 1, the transmission system would need to be upgraded.
Construction began in 1974 on two 1200 MW pressurized-water reactors, units 1 and 2, at Bellefonte. Work was halted in 1988 in response to decreased power demand. TVA has considered a variety of options for Bellefonte since then, including in 2007 using it as the proposed site for two AP1000 reactors as part of a NuStart Energy Development Consortium application for a new combined construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In 2009, the NRC granted TVA's request to reinstate Bellefonte's original construction permits so TVA could better evaluate the engineering and economic feasibility of completing Units 1 and 2. Both units are now being maintained in construction-deferred status.