How do you sell a nuclear power plant? TVA may soon find out
Nearly 43 years after construction began, the Tennessee Valley Authority may pull the plug on the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant this week and look for a buyer for the 1,600 acres that house the unfinished reactor buildings, cooling towers, administrative offices and switchyards in Hollywood, Ala.
TVA directors on Thursday are scheduled to consider the future of Bellefonte, where TVA has invested more than $5 billion to build and maintain the mothballed power plant over the past four decades.
TVA’s vice president of stakeholder relations, Joe Hoagland, said Monday that TVA determined it would be too expensive to try to finish Bellefonte and it won’t need the power for at least the next two decades.
“When Bellefonte was evaluated as part of our integrated resource plan, it was not picked as a viable alternative for the next 20 years so we are trying to consider the best options for that site,” he told the TVA Regional Energy Resource Council Monday.
Hoagland said TVA has received a half dozen inquiries and expressions of interest in buying the mothballed plant, although no price or terms have yet been set for any plant sale.
TVA declined to identify those interested in buying Bellefonte. One of those who filed comments indicating an interest in buying Bellefonte — Chicago attorney Larry Blust — also declined Monday to identify the client he was working with who wants to buy the unfinished nuclear plant.
But a Nevada developer of a new type of induction heat technology said Monday he believes he could use the equipment at Bellefonte to fire up its technology for about $100 million in additional investment. H. Michael Dooley, a nuclear Navy-trained engineer who grew up on Mobile, Ala., said Monday he thinks Bellefonte’s steam generators, switchyard and other power facilities could be used to test out his company’s electromagnetic induction energy field technology capable of generating both steam for power generation and evaporative distilled water and hydrogen and gas production.
Phoenix Energy of Nevada LLC, based in Carson City, Nev., is already trying out its induction energy power plant conversion concept at a smaller plant in Ware, Mass.
Brian Smith, principal projects and construction manager for the company, said the desing by Phoenix Energy is “ideal for conversion of existing steam turbine generating power plants, whether they are nuclear, coal or gas.
“We are a small, but dynamic veteran-owned company that has developed and designed a new and innovative electric power generation plant technology and design similar to nuclear boiling water reactors (BWR),” said Smith, who estimates the technology could generate power for as little as 2 cents per kilowatthour with federal renewable tax credits. “We are a completely clean regenerative source of non-intermittent reliable and dependable low cost electric power.”
Hoagland said if TVA agrees to declare Bellefonte surplus and pursue a public auction of the property, the board will determine what criteria it will use for the sale and then pre-qualify those who might bid in any auction, which is likely to take another 60 to 90 days, he said.