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State Urges Utility to Sell Unfinished Nuke Plant

After more than four decades of work, the plant hasn't produced a single watt of electricity.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Sen. Richard Shelby are among those urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to sell its unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, where more than four decades of work hasn't produced a watt of electricity.

Comments released publicly by the federal utility show that the Republican Bentley and Alabama Republican Shelby, along with local officials, one environmental group and others want the Tennessee Valley Authority to get rid of the twin-reactor facility in northeast Alabama near Hollywood. At least one potential buyer has been identified, documents show.

But five environmental groups are urging the federal utility to keep the plant and use it for renewable energy, and numerous individuals also submitted comments opposing a sale.

The final decision on whether to sell is up to the TVA board.

TVA has said it is considering whether to sell Bellefonte, where more than $4 billion has been spent since construction began in 1974. Work was put on hold in 1988 and employees now simply maintain the plant, located on the Tennessee River about 50 miles east of Huntsville.

A summation of Bentley's position says the governor wants TVA to sell Bellefonte to a private party that will complete the plant, similar to Shelby's stance. Shelby also would like to see the plant sold for use as a large industrial or technology complex, according to the TVA report.

Documents also show a Western energy company is interested in purchasing the plant. An executive with the firm, Phoenix Energy of Nevada, said the company has developed a new, non-nuclear technology that uses electromagnetic induction energy fields to heat water indirectly and produce steam that would turn turbines and generate electricity at Bellefonte.

"We are a completely clean, regenerative source of non-intermittent reliable and dependable, low-cost electric power," Michael Dooley, managing partner and principle engineer for Phoenix Energy, said in an email to The Associated Press.

Bellefonte is located on a 1,600-acre site and includes two partially finished nuclear reactors plus office buildings, warehouses, parking areas, railroad spurs and a helicopter pad.

TVA is the nation's largest public utility. It provides electricity to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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