The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) may further reduce its coal-fired capacity and scrap its unfinished Bellefonte nuclear power plant, the utility’s long-awaited draft power generation strategy unveiled on March 9 shows. 

The federally owned corporation has been developing its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), essentially a power planning roadmap to 2033, since fall 2013.

The 20-year-period draft study’s results revealed on Monday show that there is no need for new capacity in every scenario being modeled, even in lower load futures. However, most of the variation in expansion plans relate to an increase in natural gas and renewable capacity, and a fleet-wide energy efficiency boost.

The IRP also indicates that in most scenarios, changing environmental standards for CO2 will drive decisions to retire or idle many of the TVA’s 41 coal-fired units in the mid-2020s. The TVA has already retired 11 coal-fired units and idled seven more.

The TVA will spend $4.2 billion to complete its 1,150-MW Watts Bar 2 reactor this December, but it likely won’t proceed with construction of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama, a project on which it has already invested more than $6 billion. The TVA will also pursue a small modular reactor project, but only for research and development activity, not new baseload generation, TVA Vice President Joe Hoagland told reporters on Monday.

Over the next few months, the TVA will incorporate input from the study and identify a target power supply mix for the next 20 years this summer.


Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)