Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to reinstate the construction permits for its two unfinished nuclear units at the Bellefonte site in North Alabama. TVA said the move was “part of efforts to evaluate the feasibility of completing them to meet future power needs.”

Construction of the 1213MWe reactors began in 1974 but was suspended in 1988 at advanced stages of construction, around 80% and 60% complete. The NRC approved TVA’s request to cancel the construction permits in early 2006 and at the end of October 2007 TVA along with the NuStart Energy consortium submitted a combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for two AP1000 units at the site (see NEI December 2007, p4).

According to a TVA statement: “No decision has been made to complete the Bellefonte units or to add any baseload generating units beyond completing unit 2 at Watts Bar.” Construction of Watts Bar 2 was also suspended in 1988 but TVA decided in August 2007 to complete its construction.

TVA chief operating officer Bill McCollum said that the company intends to “thoroughly explore potential power supply sources to determine the best and most cost-effective methods of meeting future power needs in the Tennessee Valley.” He added that reinstating the construction permits is the first step in helping the company determine if completing the units is viable.

TVA said it is continuing to support NuStart and pursue the COL application for the two AP1000 reactors at Bellefonte as its “primary option” for providing future generation capacity.

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