TVA says there are many opportunities for the future its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, which is set for public auction next month

HOLLYWOOD, Ala. -- A public auction with an opening bid at $36.4 million is set for next month as TVA's Bellefonte Nuclear Plant goes on sale, and TVA officials say there are many opportunities for its future.

Inside a cooling tower at TVA's Bellefonte Nuclear Plant WHNT News 19 and other media outlets got a media invitation to tour the TVA Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Jackson County. A towering inside look, as plant managers led us through the tight spaces and expansive buildings that make up the site.

Next month it will be sold at a pubic auction. TVA officials say they don't want to speculate on what's possible the plant's future, but say there's interest, and many opportunities. "It could be anything from commercial, to industrial, also residential, recreational," TVA Spokesperson Scott Fiedler explains, "There's a multitude of opportunities that this property can hold."

The facility could also be used as it was initially intended. "There's approximately 1,600 acres and about 1,400 of those acres are for sale," Fiedler says.

There's no active nuclear material at the never-completed plant. Last year TVA announced Google's plans to build a $600 million data center at its retired Widows Creek Coal Plant, which is near Bellefonte Nuclear Plant. "We're sitting right between a Google data center down the road, and a Huntsville Mega Site so there's a lot of opportunity here, and we're just waiting for those bidders to come in and show us what that opportunity can be," Fiedler says.

Officials say there's a shift in demand and TVA opened a public comment period to get community input on the plant's future. In May the TVA board approved the sale of the facility at auction. "Right now we plan to have the property sold by October through a public auction, and our initial bids, those indicative bids, are due September 12," Fiedler explained, "We've had plenty of interest. However, we can't go into specifics due to a bid process."

Over the long-term TVA officials believe selling the property will bring a lasting economic benefit to Jackson County. "TVA's sole goal in selling this property is to bring economic development to this community, to the north Alabama region, and the Tennessee Valley as a whole," Fiedler said.

Development of the first two Bellefonte units began in the 1970s as part of TVA's plan to meet future demand with nuclear generation.

The public auction is set for October.