Franklin Haney, politician turned developer, buys unfinished TVA nuclear power plant

Chattanooga developer Franklin Haney submitted the highest bid for purchase of TVA’s unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in northern Alabama and plans to complete work on the facility, then start generating electricity, reports the Times-Free Press.

Haney, a 75-year-old real estate developer who has made a fortune on other deals with government agencies, agreed Monday to pay TVA $111 million to buy the Bellefonte plant within the next two years. Through an investment group he created known as Nuclear Development LLC, Haney could become the first individual to own and operate a U.S. nuclear power plant if his venture proves successful.

Haney was the highest bidder for the nuclear plant Monday during a TVA auction that initially drew 15 interested parties but ultimately only two bidders. The purchase capped a 15-year effort by Haney to acquire the unfinished nuclear plant, which TVA quit building nearly three decades ago but only decided in May to dispose of without finishing either of its two reactors.

“Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee,” Haney said in a statement after the auction. “The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region — many of which have been hit hard by the forced closure of coal power plants over the last decade.”

Haney said he hopes to finish Bellefonte, creating between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary construction jobs and an estimated 2,000 full-time jobs once both reactors become operational.

But Haney and his delegation, which included former Alabama Congressman Bud Kramer, declined to discuss any details of their plans or outline a schedule for restarting work on the plant.

…Haney has built a fortune on lucrative real estate and government over the past half-century. In 2000, Haney paid $23 million for a South Florida mansion once owned by the Hearst newspaper dynasty. He now lives there, having added a $52 million yacht to go along with his oceanfront home.

From his Chattanooga roots, Haney built a half dozen buildings leased to TVA, including the former Haney Building, Republic Building and Liberty Tower that previously housed TVA employees in Chattanooga. In Washington, D.C., Haney owns the Dulles Greenway Toll Road and the Portals Office Complex, one of the biggest government-leased offices in the district.

Note: Haney, as the TFP notes in a sidebar on his career, has some political history dating back to his work as an aide to the late U.S. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. and including runs for the Democratic nomination as governor in 1974 and for the U.S. House in 1966.

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