The plant came in at $1.8B in capital costs or $1,500/kilowatt
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to reopen the Browns Ferry 1 nuclear reactor this month 22 years after it was shut down down for safety reasons and after five years of upgrades and renovation. The cost is $1.8 billion, which is nearly as much as a new nuclear power plant.
The plant, located in Athens, GA, has a valid license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). It will generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity for the region at a cost of $1,500 per kilowatt. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) estimates new plants can be built for a price of $1,200 to $1,400/kilowatt. Despite the higher costs TVA felt that having the bulk of the regulatory paperwork behind it was a big advantage in making the decision to invest in reopening the plant.
Critics were not persuaded by this reasoning. David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer who once worked at Browns Ferry, and now works for the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that upgrading the plant is like buying an eight-track tape in an I-Pod era. UCS also issued a report that stated in its analysis that aging nuclear plants, despite upgrades, are in the "wear out" phase.
Despite these concerns, TVA is also studying whether to finish the Watts Bar 2 nuclear power plant where work stopped in 1988. Watts Bar 1 came online in 1996 after years of delays.