TVA Abandons Expensive, Risky Plans for New Nuclear Reactors in Alabama

Guest Blog | February 12, 2016 |

Utility withdraws federal license application for proposed reactors at Bellefonte site

Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448, [email protected]


Knoxville, Tenn. (February 12, 2016) – Dealing yet another blow to the nuclear power industry, today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) finally announced they were abandoning plans to build two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at their Bellefonte site in Hollywood, Alabama. The utility filed a motion with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) to withdraw their combined operating license application (COL), which they had originally filed in October 2007. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), with their local chapter Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team/Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation, legally intervened, challenging the process since 2009 and were instrumental in squelching the expensive, unnecessary proposal.


“We welcome TVA’s decision to slow the financial hemorrhage at Bellefonte 3 and 4. We strongly encourage TVA to go ahead and close the books on the 42-year old Bellefonte 1 and 2 reactor units, which will never be completed, saving more money and allowing Northern Alabama to move into the 21st century with new economic opportunities like Google, energy efficiency and clean solar power,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.


While the costs of solar, wind and energy efficiency have plummeted in recent years, costs for new nuclear reactors have skyrocketed. In the U.S. the four under-construction AP1000 reactors (two at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia and two at SCANA’s V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina) have experienced massive cost overruns and significant construction delays. Both projects are at least 39-months delayed. Recent developments before the Georgia Public Service Commission have led to total estimated project costs increasing from approximately $14 billion in 2009 to nearly $22 billion.


At Thursday’s TVA Board meeting, additional cost increases of nearly $200 million above the upper range of the most recent cost estimate of $4.5 billion for the nearly-complete Watts Bar 2 reactor in Tennessee, which began construction back in the early 1970s, were discussed.


It is unclear how today’s decision may affect TVA’s two long-abandoned, partially-constructed reactors, units 1 and 2, at Bellefonte. TVA’s 2015 long-term energy plan, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) signaled a likely shift away from additional nuclear power beyond the Watts Bar 2 reactor coming online and a proposed increase in generation capacity at their Browns Ferry plant.


“TVA and its customers have been burned time and time again by the high costs and risks associated with nuclear power and it’s taken a long while for those lessons to be learned,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director with SACE. “But today’s decision shows there are utilities that have the wherewithal to change course and prevent future, costly mistakes.”


Find today’s TVA filing here:

For additional information, visit and the January 19, 2016 filing to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board by SACE and BREDL.




Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at