The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has awarded French company AREVA an engineering and development contract to work on potential completion of the 1,200-MW Unit 1 at the Bellefonte nuclear power plant in northern Alabama.

AREVA said in a statement on Monday, without discussing terms of the agreement, that the contract covers engineering, licensing, and procurement of long-lead materials for possible start-up of the reactor between 2018 and 2019. The company is also expected to provide its TELEPERM XSTM digital instrumentation and control system, which recently received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

At a TVA board meeting in August, funding was approved for work on the next phase of the plant’s completion. Work had been suspended on the Bellefonte project in 1988 due to a decline in demand, though $2.5 billion had been spent, and 88% of Unit 1’s construction had been completed.

Though TVA approved about $248 million in spending to complete Unit 1, the nation’s largest public utility has determined that it would complete its Integrated Resource Plan prior to making its decision to complete construction of the unit. Unit 1 is now considered about 55% complete due to the transfer or sale of many components and the need to replace others. The total cost to complete Unit 1 is expected to be about $4.2 billion.

Sources: TVA, AREVA, POWERnews