TVA requests extension to Bellefonte 1 permit

25 October 2010

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has requested a further extension to the construction permit for Bellefonte unit 1 in order to keep the option open to complete the partially-built unit.


Bellefonte 1 and 2
The partially-built Bellefonte 1 and 2 units (Image: TVA)
Under the current construction permit, TVA must complete construction of Bellefonte unit 1 by 1 October 2011. However, TVA has now asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to extend the permit to 1 October 2020.


TVA told the NRC: "This additional time would allow TVA to either complete construction of unit 1 should TVA decide to move forward with project approval, or allow TVA to continue to preserve and maintain unit 1 in a deferred status as a valuable asset pending a longer term determination of generation needs to meet future electrical demand."


The TVA board has said that it will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the completion of Bellefonte 1 after completion of the company’s integrated resource planning process, which is scheduled in the first half of 2011.


Despite having yet to decide on completion of the unit, TVA recently selected Areva for work including the "engineering, licensing and procurement of long lead time materials in support of a possible start-up date in the 2018-9 timeframe." One part of that work is a digital instrumentation and control system. In addition, Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) has been contracted to design and build two steam generators for Bellefonte 1. TVA has set aside $248 million in its fiscal 2011 budget for work towards completing the reactor.


TVA noted that, apart from extending the permit by nine years, "no additional change to the existing construction permit is requested, and the scope of activities authorized by the construction permits would not change."


The company added, "If construction resumed, TVA would undertake those activities necessary to complete construction pursuant to a schedule that supports full operation by May 2018." TVA said that the requested extension "includes a reasonable amount of time to allow for adjustments to the schedule as may become necessary."


The NRC licensed the construction of the two Babcock and Wilcox 1213 MWe pressurized water reactors (PWRs) at the Alabama site in 1974, but TVA halted work in the mid-1980s because of changes in forecast demand growth. In 1988, when TVA requested NRC classify the units as deferred, units 1 and 2 were approximately 88% and 58% complete, respectively. The plant remained deferred until 2006, when TVA formally cancelled the units and asked NRC to withdraw the construction permits; the regulator duly did so. This step cleared the way for TVA to look into other potential uses for the site.


In 2005, TVA's site was selected by the NuStart Energy Development consortium as a potential location for two new Westinghouse AP1000 units, referred to as Bellefonte 3 and 4. TVA filed an application for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for the units with NRC in October 2007.


By August 2008, changes in the economics of power generation and the possibility of constraints on the availability and supply of components needed for new generation development prompted TVA to request the reinstatement of the construction permits for Bellefonte 1 and 2. In a unique move, NRC formally reinstated the permits in March 2009. The reinstated permits were initially classified as 'terminated'. TVA then requested a change to 'deferred' status to clear the way for possible future construction. The NRC granted this in January 2010, after a review of additional information provided by the TVA and an inspection of the site.


The reinstated construction permit for Bellefonte unit 2 is scheduled to expire on 1 October 2014.


Researched and written 

by World Nuclear News