Two Bellafonte nuclear plants could be completed by 2028 with $13 billion investment

The future development of Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, the northeast Alabama facility sold at auction in November, will generate an economic impact of $1 billion and provide more than 12,000 jobs.

Nuclear Development said in its proposal that it plans to complete the two partially completed nuclear power plants and to operate those plants as merchant power plants connected to the grid through the existing transmission lines of TVA and Southern Company.

Nuclear Holdings LLC, the Washington, D.C.-company established in 2012 affiliated with the Birmingham landlord and Chattanooga-based developer Franklin Haney, purchased the plant in November from the Tennessee Valley Authority for more than $111 million. According to the initial release from the TVA, the company plans to invest an additional $13 billion to bring the unfinished nuclear station online, which will create 2,000 permanent jobs in the region, along with 4,000 temporary construction jobs.

According to the TVA, the plant is roughly 55 percent constructed. As recently as 2011, the TVA sought to restart work on one of the reactors, but by 2014, the utility was ready to discontinue the project again. Earlier this year, the TVA Board of Directors deemed Bellefonte surplus property and began accepting preliminary bidding offers for the site in September.

TVA also determined the power demand wouldn’t catch up to the plant’s output for another 20 years, which could buy some time for a potentially lengthy permitting process.

Bellefonte has Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction licenses. When completed, the plants will be the largest capacity advanced reactors in the United States, according to the proposal.

To complete the plant, Nuclear Development’s proposal said it would require 8,000 to 10,000 direct and indirect construction jobs during peak construction

In a prior proposal, Nuclear Development was trying to capitalize on more than $2 billion of investment tax credit then available for new nuclear generation. As a public power entity, TVA does not qualify for such credits, however. TVA rejected Haney’s offer and those credits have since been phased out, although Congress could reconsider such incentives for new power generation.

Watts Bar Unit 2 was 80% complete when construction on both units was stopped in the 1980s due in part to a projected decrease in power demand. In 2007, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board approved completion of Unit 2 on August 1, and construction resumed on October 15, 2007. The project was expected to cost $2.5 billion, and employ around 2,300 contractor workers. It was fully completed in 2016 at a cost of $4.7 billion.

The letter of intent to bid submitted by Nuclear Development LLC, which outlined the value of its proposal, was released Thursday by TVA – the federal utility which sold the mothballed plant at auction.

Nuclear Development submitted a bid of $111 million to win the auction for the plant, which is located in Jackson County near Scottsboro.

“The positive ongoing economic impact to the surrounding region will exceed $1 billion per year,” the proposal stated.

There are 39 nuclear reactors operating across 10 Southeast states. Along with extensions granted to their original operating licenses, most of these reactors are poised to operate well into the second half of this century. Add to that the reactors that are under construction, two each in Georgia and South Carolina and projected to begin generating electricity by 2020.