Nevada energy company submits $38M bid for TVA's unfinished Bellefonte nuke

Dive Brief:

  • Phoenix Energy of Nevada (PENV) has submitted a $38 million bid for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) partially-constructed Bellefonte nuclear plant near Hollywood, Alabama.

  • The price is just under the $36.4 million minimum bid, and far below the $5 billion that TVA spent over the past 40 years – construction on the site was halted in 1988 – at what was supposed to be a 1,200-MW nuclear plant.

  • PENV hopes to use the 1,600 acre site and retrofit it with its magnetic induction generation technology that the company claims has zero emissions and can cost as little as $0.03/kWh.

Dive Insight:

The TVA has been holding on to the Bellefonte site for decades, but finally recognized that in the face of low electricity demand, a large power plant would not be needed for at least 20 years and decided to sell the site.

The decision to sell, made in May, came just months before the near completion of the 1,150-MW Watts Bar unit 2 nuclear plant in Tennessee. Unit 2 was 80% complete when the project was halted. If the unit comes online by the end of the summer, as expected, it would be the first new nuclear plant to enter service in 20 years.

Only two other nuclear plants are under construction in the United States — Southern Company’s two new units at its Vogtle plant in Georgia, and the two units SCANA Corp. is building at its Summer plant in South Carolina. Both the Southern and SCANA projects are years behind schedule and millions over budget. 

Since October 2012, 14 nuclear reactors have been shuttered or the owners have announced plans to close as cheap natural gas and rising levels of renewable resources have challenged the economics of nuclear energy.

Legislation to support plants in Illinois failed this year, prompting Exelon to announce the closure of two plants. But in New York, regulators approved an income support package to keep upstate nukes online. That plan faces challenges from skeptical lawmakers and a generation company.

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy Technology