Contract signed for work on unfinished TVA nuke plant being sold to developer; $5B in fed loan guarantees sought

Veteran Chattanooga developer Franklin L. Haney has contracted with a Canadian engineering company to handle much of the work needed to open at least one of the two reactors at the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant that Haney is buying from TVA, reports the Times Free Press. And he’s seeking a $5 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy to finance the work — with support of U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

Haney’s Nuclear Development LLC signed a letter of intent with the American subsidiary of the Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to complete work on Bellefonte Unit 1 once Haney completes his $111 (million) purchase of the idled nuclear facility, which he said he expects to buy from the Tennessee Valley Authority by November.

“We are excited to have been selected for this important project,” said Preston Swafford, the chief nuclear officer for SNC-Lavalin who previously headed TVA‘s nuclear program, including Bellefonte, for seven years before leaving the federal utility in October 2013. “The impetus to complete the Bellefonte plant signifies that nuclear power has regained interest as an energy source that is necessary as part of the overall energy portfolio in the U.S.”

Haney, who put up $22 million 19 months ago as an initial down payment on Bellefonte, has another five months to close his $111 million purchase of the twin-reactor plant, which is more than half finished on the Guntersville Reservoir in Jackson County.

To help finance the projected $13 billion cost of finishing Bellefonte, Haney’s firm and a handful of Tennessee Valley members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and Mo Brooks, R-Ala, have asked the U.S. Department of Energy to consider granting $5 billion of federal loan guarantees for the Bellefonte project.

In a May 14th letter to the Trump administration, the backers of Bellefonte said the plant would have a $1 billion annual economic impact to the area if it is built and would create 8,000 to 10,000 jobs during its construction.

Fleischmann said Thursday he wrote the letter to help promote economic growth in the Tennessee Valley.

“I am always supportive of any initiative aimed at creating jobs and economic investment in our region, including the proposed completion of the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant,” Fleischmann said. “Given the potential benefits as I understand them, I hope that the loan request receives due consideration.”

Brooks this spring called Bellefonte “probably the worst financial boondoggle in the history of the United States” and urged that the plant be completed, if it can be done in a safe and cost effective manner for power users in the area.

“We urge you to give this project proper attention and assist in completing the review of Nuclear Development’s DOE loan guarantee application, which has been pending for many months,” said the letter to Trump from U.S. Reps. Fleischmann, Brooks, and three other Alabama members of Congress — Robert Aderholt, Bradley Bryne and Martha Roby.

(The unfinished Bellefonte plant is located at Hollywood, Ala., in the northeastern corner of that state – about 55 miles from Chattanooga.)

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