TVA opening public comment period on future of Bellefonte Nuclear Plant
HOLLYWOOD, Ala. – TVA is asking for residents to give input on the future of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.
“With last week’s announcement of the suspension of licensing activities for Bellefonte units 3 and 4, we felt it was also appropriate to determine should we consider pursuing licenses for the units 1 and 2, and eventually the entire future of the Bellefonte site,” TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said.
Because the site is public land that TVA manages, utility officials want the community to have a say in Bellefonte’s future. “We’ve opened up a public comment period to allow individuals throughout the Tennessee Valley to offer their suggestions, their comments, about what the potential future of the Bellefonte facility should be.”
There are options. The plant — located near Hollywood — could be sold. If TVA’s board of directors declares the site surplus, it would go through a public auction.
Industrial, commercial or residential development are other options. Some of the existing infrastructure could be used in that regard, as there is no active nuclear material on site.
The site is staffed for maintenance and security, and TVA says the plant could still be used as it was intended.
TVA officials say resident input is important in making a decision, and there are multiple ways you can get in touch with TVA officials to make your voice heard.
There is information on TVA’s website with who to contact. “You can contact either of those individuals via traditional mail, email, or phone,” Hopson explains.
Jackson County leaders are watching this process closely. Any decision about the plant could have a big impact on the county.
“The possibilities of what could happen with the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant are tremendous,” Jackson County Commission Chair Matthew Hodges said.
Hodges says depending on what happens, the plant’s future could benefit or negatively impact the county. “It has the possibility for rejuvenation of that site,” Hodges says.
New industry would be a definite benefit for the county, but it could lose the much-needed funds that it gets from the property, which go into the general fund. Replacement funds from a new industry are uncertain.
This all comes as commissioners work to find a solution to Jackson County’s budget issues. A short-term solution put the county at a tentative ease this year, but it needs a concrete solution. Even more cuts, moving funds, or a revenue raising measure are options. If the county were to pursue a revenue raising measure as part of the budget solution, it would have to go through Montgomery and then back to the county for a vote.
The plant’s future is an aspect in those complicated discussions. “There are some real positives that could come from this conversation and I hope a positive does come from this conversation,” Hodges says.
The TVA board will review the comments and other deciding factors to make a decision. Public comments are welcome until March 18. As for what happens after that, no time frame for a decision has been announced.