Browns Ferry I, A Starting-Up Update

By May 11, 2007Energy

Good, balanced overview story in today’s New York Times on the TVA’s start-up of the Browns Ferry I commercial nuclear reactor. We’ve written about the facility’s return to operation, another positive step forward in the industry’s renaissance, but it’s certainly not a challenge-free (re)birth.

WASHINGTON, May 10 — The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to reopen its Browns Ferry 1 nuclear reactor this month — 22 years after it was shut for safety reasons and 5 years after extensive renovations began.

The move reflects the increased interest in nuclear power as an energy source, but the government agency’s willingness to spend $1.8 billion on the overhaul — almost as much as a new plant is supposed to cost — also shows just how hard companies think it will be to build a new plant.

Nuclear power has to be part of the U.S. energy future; in remarks today NAM President John Engler said a reasonable goal was to increase the country’s percentage of nuclear-derived electricity from the current 20 percent to 40 percent. Consumer and industry demand, coupled with current environmental expectations, make that goal eminently achievable — hard, but achievable — especially if policymakers and regulators are serious about energy and the economy.