Tennessee’s Republican senators are applauding a decision by federal authorities to finish construction of a nuclear power plant in northeast Alabama, a project that will increase the total number of reactors nationwide from 104 to 105.
Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said the vote this week by the board that oversees the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to complete work on the Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, which was stalled in 1988, indicates how important nuclear power is to the nation’s electricity grid.
Alexander said nuclear power still has “one of the best safety records of any form of energy production” in the United States, despite the 1979 Three Mile Island incident.
Corker added it just makes “common sense” to make sure that nuclear power “is a significant part of the equation” in the search for “clean, safe, cost-effective, and reliable sources of domestic energy.”
Construction at Bellefonte began in 1974 and stopped in 1988 after more than $4 billion had been spent and the agency ran out of funds. The TVA estimates that it will cost at least that much to finish the job by 2020, money it has obtained by selling off several conventional plants.
The World Nuclear Association has estimated that at least four more nuclear facilities could be brought online in the United States by 2020, depending on how many cheaper, natural gas-fired facilities are built between now and then.
Nuclear power plants currently account for about 20 percent of electricity output nationwide, with most of that production being generated by older reactors built before 1977.
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