Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Federal judge won’t expedite hearing in lawsuit over failed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant sale

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. - For much of November it looked like the long-dormant Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Jackson County was getting new life.

It had a suitor, Nuclear Development LLC, willing to pay more than $100 million to buy the plant.

But on the day the sale was to be completed, the plant’s owner, the Tennessee Valley Authority, announced it was pulling the plug.

Nuclear Development, led by Chattanooga-developer Franklin Haney, was due to pay TVA $89 million on Nov. 30 to complete the purchase of the Bellefonte plant.

The estimated $13 billion project to follow promised thousands of construction jobs over several years.

But TVA announced the buyer hadn’t fulfilled federal licensing conditions and it was pulling the plug.

TVA says it has spent about $5 billion on Bellefonte since 1974.

Now, the dispute is in federal court.

Nuclear Development denies it didn’t meet the terms. It filed a lawsuit against TVA the same day the utility pulled out of the agreement. The developers are asking a judge to bring TVA back to the table, or to order it pay back Nuclear Development $30 million for its down payment and related expenses.

Last week, a federal judge issued the first order in the case. He rejected Nuclear Development’s request for an expedited hearing.

It doesn’t look like a deal is close.

TVA informed the court it would give Nuclear Development five days notice if it decides to sell the property to someone else, dispose of the property or let its current construction permits lapse.

The court has not set a hearing date in the case.