VIDEO: For sale sign going up at TVA Bellefonte nuclear power plant

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The Tennessee Valley Authority voted, without opposition, on May 5, to authorize TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson to sell the 1,600-acre Bellefonte nuclear plant property near Hollywood, Alabama.

The board voted seven-to-nothing with two abstentions because of recusal. The formal motion said the property would be declared “surplus” and put up for sale. The vote gives the CEO authority to sell the property, in whole or in part, based on market conditions.

TVA General Counsel Sherry Quirk outlined the staff’s recommendation that the property be sold at auction to the highest bidder. A minimum price will be set for the auction. The appraisal value of the property has been set at $34.6 million.

TVA is “agnostic” about potential development use of the site, Quirk said.

TVA staff doubted that the federal utility should continue “to sit on the site” in hopes that it “might” be used for nuclear power in 20 years, Quirk said.

In the meantime, the site, which has significant infrastructure, could be important to economic development around Jackson County, Alabama, Quirk said.

Public comments on the future of Bellefonte have favored selling the property to an entity that would actually complete the nuclear plant. Some parties have called for TVA to keep the property and use it to develop renewable power sources.

In response to a question, Quirk said that if the land is sold then TVA would not be under an obligation to buy electricity from any power plant on the site.

TVA purchased the site in the 1970s and then suspended construction of the two Bellfefonte nuclear units in the late 1980s.

Over the years, TVA has looked at using the property for options ranging from a combined-cycle gas power plant to completing the existing nuclear units to pursuing “advanced” nuclear units on the property.

But once the Watts Bar 2 plan is commissioned this summer, TVA does not foresee the need for more baseload nuclear for at another 20 years.

It is possible that the auction and sale process could entail additional environmental reports by the federal utility, Quirk said.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 22 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

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