Former TVA and MLGW Heads Criticize Nuclear Power Proposal


Bellefonte nuclear plant - TVA
  • TVA
  • Bellefonte nuclear plant

The former chairman for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) joined former Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) president in speaking out against a proposal for Memphis to switch to a nuclear power source.

Dave Freeman, former TVA head, and Herman Morris Jr., former MLGW leader, sent a letter dated November 19th to the Memphis City Council and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, urging them not to support the proposal for MLGW to switch from TVA to the Alabama-based nuclear plant, Bellefonte.

A representative from the group Nuclear Development LLC told the council last month that the switch could save Memphis $500 million a year.

“We write to express our grave concern that the city of Memphis is considering the purchase of electricity from the unfinished Bellefonte nuclear power reactors,” the letter reads. “This plant is so outdated that even TVA couldn’t complete them after a half of century of trying.”

The letter continues, urging the mayor and council to heed the advice of current MLGW president J.T. Young, who told the council he was skeptical about the proposal at its October 9th meeting.

One of Young’s concerns was whether or not Nuclear Development would be able to complete the construction of the plant.

The pair said that the plant’s two unfinished reactors, which were first designed in the 1960s are “woefully out-of-date.”

Even if construction of the reactors is completed, Morris and Freeman argue that the cost to maintain the plant would be “enormous,” meaning the price of power would be more expensive than from TVA or from other “clean, safe, renewable resources like solar and wind power.”

“This fact is why old nuclear power plants around the country are closing,” the letter reads. “They simply cannot compete against safer, cleaner, and better 21st century energy technologies.”

Additionally, the letter cites that Memphis is TVA’s largest customer, and that Bellefonte could not provide power to all of the city, as it is “too small to meet all our needs.”

“At best, Bellefonte could provide only a fraction of the power supply that Memphis would need,” while the rest would have to come from other sources outside of Nuclear Development’s ownership.

The duo urged the council to await the December release of MLGW’s study on long-term power supply options

“We therefore urge you to say ‘NO!’ to an attempt by Nuclear Development LLC to mislead Memphians with unsupported claims of cost savings in order for it to obtain a handout from the federal government.”

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