TVA discusses pros and cons of nuclear power

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - A nuclear war of words was launched in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church hosted a public forum on the pros and cons of nuclear power Monday night. It centered on TVA's decision to complete it's second nuclear unit at the Watts Bar Plant and possibly build a new plant in Alabama.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was at the forum and as the story.

It's nuclear least of words.

"There's a number of reasons we're concerned," said Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

"Nuclear power can play an important role in energy transformation," said Jerry Paul, Distinguished Fellow on Energy Policy.

Knoxville's Unitarian Universalist Church hosted the "Nuclear Power: Pro and Con" discussion Monday night. The reason: TVA's role in the nationwide reactor revival. TVA has three nuclear power plants. It's committed to completing the two-point-five billion dollar unit two reactor at the Watts Bar Plant. Also, it's considering a seven to nine billion dollar new plant in Bellefonte, Alabama.

"I think it can be one component of developing a broader package of emmission-free, clean, safe, baseload energy," Paul said.

Jerry Paul's with UT's Howard Baker Junior Center for public policy. He doesn't side with TVA or any program, but points to France's heavy reliance on nuclear power as to why it can be good.

"They, for that, have the cleanest energy in Europe and the cheapest energy in Europe," Paul said.

Stephen Smith's with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. He says nuclear power takes too much money, too much water, and makes too much waste.

"We would like to see a greater investment in renewables because the reality is TVA already gets 20 percent of it's power from nuclear power," Smith said.

TVA couldn't talk on camera, but says an annual two-percent power demand increase makes nuclear investment necessary.

"TVA's been here. at that time they were going to build 17 nuclear power plant. They only got 8 or 9 up and running, and it cost 20 plus billion dollars, we're still paying for that," Smith said.

Everyone can conversation will save TVA and you money.

TVA hasn't officially decided to build the Bellefonte plant. It's just trying to get the license for the option.

If all goes smoothly, TVA will could it in three and half years. Construction could be done around 2018.

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