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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bellefonte not picked for nuclear pilot project


Friday, May 01, 2009 By DAVID BREWERTimes Staff Writer david.brewer@htimes.com
Group chose sitein Georgia; TVAsays plans on track

SCOTTSBORO - NuStart Energy Development has picked a Georgia nuclear plant over the Bellefonte site near Scottsboro as its pilot project for a new generation of reactors.

But the Tennessee Valley Authority said it will continue pursuing federal approval to build and operate Units 3 and 4 at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.

TVA said Thursday that NuStart "is transferring the reference designation" to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors from Bellefonte to Southern Co.'s Plant Vogtle site near Waynesboro, Ga.

"The change," it said, "is designed to align industry and regulatory resources with a license application that has specific, near-term construction plans."

Atlanta-based Southern, parent of Alabama Power, anticipates getting a license to build and run the two new reactors in 2011 and having them online by 2016. TVA is looking at getting a license for Bellefonte in 2012 and having its two units ready by 2018. The Nuclear Regulatory Association must approve all new reactors.

The switch in designation "doesn't change our plan," TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said Thursday. Building and operating two AP1000 reactors "is still an option for the Bellefonte site," he said.

The transfer, he said, means only that the selected plant will have a standard reactor design that other plants will follow.

In 2006, TVA opted to partner with NuStart, a Pennsylvania-based consortium of nuclear utilities, to build a new plant rather than finish Bellefonte. That decision was based in part on the AP1000's simpler design, which some experts say will be less costly to build and run.

TVA decided later that it also would consider finishing Bellefonte units 1 and 2.

Unit 1 was about 85 percent complete and Unit 2 about 55 percent finished when TVA halted construction in the late 1980s after spending about $4.2 billion. At the time, TVA cited its rising debt and reduced demand for electricity.

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