TVA to Cut Budget, Jobs at Bellefonte Reactor Project

In October, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to cut its budget for completion of a reactor at the Bellefonte nuclear plant by nearly two-thirds, dismissing 400 workers in the coming months.

Bellefonte nuclear plant. Source: TVAThe project's annual budget will drop from $182 million to $66 million in the 2014 fiscal year, TVA announced in a release Wednesday. Job cuts will affect 35 of 60 TVA employees involved in the project and 365 contractors, with the remaining workforce mostly performing maintenance, security and planning tasks at the incomplete plant.

A TVA spokesman told the Huntsville Times he expects most of the displaced employees will retire or find work at other TVA plants. He also said the federal utility is working on a new integrated resource plan that takes into account lower-than-expected power demand and other market conditions that affect the project.

In the release, TVA nuclear construction Senior Vice President Mike Skaggs seemed to allude to a reconsideration of Bellefonte 1 completion: “Over the past few months, TVA has been looking across the company, including at our nuclear construction projects, to determine the work that is most important to perform. ... The most important job in nuclear construction is to safely deliver Watts Bar 2 in a quality manner, on time and within budget. Protecting the Bellefonte asset is also at the top of our ‘must and will do’ list.”

In 2011, TVA's board voted to complete one of two 1,260 megawatt Babcock & Wilcox reactors at the plant near Hollywood, Ala. Both units had been mothballed in the 1980s, with the first unit 90 percent complete. Finishing it in the coming years was estimated to cost $4.9 billion, contingent upon a leaseback of Watts Bar 2, another TVA reactor completion project that announced significant delays last year.

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