A firm headed by former Chattanooga businessman Franklin L. Haney is buying TVA's Bellefonte Nuclear Plant for $111 million.
Nuclear Development, LLC today entered into a contract to purchase the partially completed plant from TVA at auction and will invest up to an additional $13 billion to complete construction of the nuclear energy facility, beginning in 2017.
The project is expected to create between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary construction jobs and an estimated 2,000 permanent, high paying jobs once operational.
Mr. Haney said, "Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee. 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.
"I would like to thank the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson for their diligent work in executing this fair and open bidding process. I am grateful for the entire Alabama and Tennessee congressional delegations – especially Senators Shelby, Sessions, Alexander, and Corker, as well as Alabama Governor Robert Bentley – for their continued support of nuclear development throughout this process. I appreciate TVA's confidence in our proposal and I am excited to carry forward the investments TVA has already made in Bellefonte Nuclear Plant for the benefit of North Alabama and the surrounding communities. This is truly a historic day for the TVA region."
Once completed, Bellefonte will feature state-of-the-art technology and security systems, including a digital Instrumentation & Control (I&C) system for the reactor, double-barrier safety barriers, and a control room simulator for training operations, it was stated.
In the mid 1970s, TVA began construction of the two Bellefonte nuclear units, but the project was suspended in 1988. As recently as 2011, 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 board of directors deemed Bellefonte surplus property and began accepting offers for the site in September.
The site includes approximately 1,300 acres on Guntersville Reservoir, two partially constructed Babcock & Wilcox Pressurized Water Nuclear Reactors (55% complete), two high-voltage switchyards and several office and support buildings. It also contains significant nuclear power station equipment, reinforced containment buildings, used fuel storage pools and high capacity cranes for fuel loading, unloading and movement.
The sale concludes a six-month competitive auction process designed to promote job creation and investment in northeast Alabama.
“Our primary goal in selling the site is to provide the best long-term economic return to the surrounding communities and the people of the Tennessee Valley,” said Jim Chardos, TVA Bellefonte plant manager and a 22-year plant employee. “Each bidder needed to provide an end-use and investment plan to demonstrate that they can do just that – promote economic investment in the area.”
TVA set the property’s minimum auction price as $36.4 million. Concentric advisors marketed the property to more than 500 potential buyers with 11 expressing an interest and signing confidentiality agreements for further discussions. Three bidders completed letters of intent which included financial qualifications and a plan on how they intend to use the property.
As part of the deal, TVA requires Nuclear Development, LLC to make a $25 million minimum investment in the Bellefonte property during the five-year period following the closing. This minimum investment will promote economic development activities in Jackson County, Ala.
TVA announced the sale earlier this summer saying it no longer needed the nuclear plant site to meet future baseload power needs.
Nuclear Development, LLC has up to two years to close on the property. Until then, TVA will maintain the site.