Earlier this month the NRC decided to return the two reactors to a deferred construction status. The NRC stated in a press release earlier this month,
after considering the technical, regulatory, and legal aspects of TVA’s request, concluded that there is sufficient reason to allow reinstatement of the construction permits, using a conservative sequential approach to ensure the safety of doing so.”The NRC expects to hold public hearings on the reinstatement request. There is the to be expected opposition from pseudo-environmentalist groups to the reinstatement. Dramatic increases in the fuel cost for coal fired steam plants lead TVA to reconsider the completion of the long delayed reactors. In addition, TVA has applied for an NRC license to build two new reactors at Bellefonte.
TVA has not yet decided to complete the two units but it has billions of dollars invested in the partially completed reactors, The two reactors could be completed for far less than two new reactors would cost, and they would have similar power output to new reactors. TVA originally waved its construction permits for the two reactors in 2006.
The current Nuclear Regulatory Commission action reinstates TVA’s construction permit for the original reactors only as a “terminated” plant. The NRC has given the public 60 days to object to the permit. Further NRC action would be required before TVA would be permitted to resume construction of the reactors.
In addition to the two older reactors TVA has applied for a license to construct two new reactors at the Bellefonte location. It is not clear if TVA plans to build and operate all 4 reactors. At present TVA is working to complete the long deferred Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor. TVA recently reported that during the first year its newly reconstructed Browns Ferry Unit 1 reactor saved TVA $800 million in operating costs.