Bellefonte Nuclear Plant Sold for $111 Million; Buyer Wants to Finish It

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said on November 14 that it has sold the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant at auction to a private holding company for $111 million.

The two-unit Bellefonte plant sits on approximately 1,600 acres on a peninsula in the Tennessee River near Hollywood, Alabama. TVA began construction in 1974, but it halted the project in 1988. Substantial infrastructure remains on the site including the two partially constructed Babcock & Wilcox reactors, cooling towers, switchyards, office buildings, warehouses, a training center, parking lots, railroad spurs, and a helicopter landing pad. TVA debated for years over what to do with the plant, with the board finally voting on May 5 to put the entire site up for auction.

The sale took place on Monday morning, and the winning bid was submitted by Nuclear Development LLC, an investment group headed by Chattanooga, Tenn.–based developer Franklin L. Haney. Haney has been trying to purchase the site for years in order to restart the project, according to local media.

TVA said that 15 groups expressed interest in the auction but ultimately, only two bids were submitted, Haney’s and one from a group planning to use the reactor for a plant in India.

“Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee,” Haney said in a statement. “The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region—many of which have been hit hard by the forced closure of coal power plants over the last decade. This project will bring new life to the region by creating thousands of jobs while providing assured access to reliable, affordable, zero-emission energy.”

Haney said his group plans to invest up to $13 billion to complete the Bellefonte plant, beginning in 2017, though he declined to offer a schedule for when it would reach commercial operations. He believes the plant might support around 2,000 local jobs once operational.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).