For sale: 1 un­fin­ished nuke power plant

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Jay Reeves

HOL­LY­WOOD, Ala. — Af­ter spend­ing $5 bil­lion on an un­fin­ished nu­clear power plant in north­east­ern Alabama, the na­tion’s largest fed­eral util­ity is pre­par­ing to sell the prop­erty at a frac­tion of its cost.

The Ten­nessee Val­ley Au­thor­ity has set a min­i­mum bid of $36.4 mil­lion for its Belle­fonte Nu­clear Plant and the 1,600 sur­round­ing acres of wa­ter­front prop­erty on the Ten- nessee River. The buyer gets two un­fin­ished nu­clear re­ac­tors, trans­mis­sion lines, of­fice build­ings, 8 miles of roads, a 1,000-space park­ing lot and more.

Ini­tial bids are due Monday, and at least one com­pany has pub­licly ex­pressed in­ter­est in the site with plans to use it for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy pro­duc­tion. Us­ing the site for power pro­duc­tion, in­dus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing, recre­ation or even res­i­dences would all be fine with the agency, said spokesman Scott Fiedler.

The util­ity had planned to con­struct four re­ac­tors at the site, but de­mand for power in the re­gion never met ex­pec­ta­tions. Work there re­port­edly be­gan in the mid-1970s and halted in 1988. A se­ries of starts and stops pre­ceded the de­ci­sion ear­lier this year to sell Belle­fonte.

The Nu­clear En­ergy In­sti­tute says at least 30 nu­clear power units were sold in part or whole since 1999.

The po­ten­tial sale of Belle­fonte is creat­ing hope in a re­gion where many gave up long ago on the prom­ise of thou­sands of jobs. “It was a great thing, but then they just pulled the plug,” said Hol­ly­wood, Ala., Mayor Frank Duke.

Ne­vada-based Phoenix En­ergy has said it will of­fer $38 mil­lion for Belle­fonte in hopes of us­ing it for a new, non-nu­clear tech­nol­ogy to gen­er­ate power. It says its sys­tem uses elec­tro­mag­netic in­duc­tion en­ergy fields to heat wa­ter in­di­rectly and pro­duce steam that would turn tur­bines and gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

BRYNN AN­DER­SON/AP

At least one com­pany has ex­pressed in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing the Belle­fonte Nu­clear Plant in north­east­ern Alabama.

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