News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


TVA has role to play in producing energy

When Unit 1 at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant comes on line, hopefully next year, it will produce enough electricity to supply nearly one-third of the households in Alabama.

That's an impressive statistic which the nation can't ignore as it wrestles with how to get away from Middle East oil.

President Bush advocated expanding use of nuclear energy during his State of the Union address, and did so in a way as to lessen concerns about its safety. He called for nuclear energy to be clean and safe, which is still a major concern because of the stored spent fuel rods that lurk as potential disasters.

The three Browns Ferry units opened in the mid 1970s and then ran into all sorts of nagging problems, including the 1975 fire.

TVA closed the plant in 1985. After refitting Unit 2 and Unit 3 and retraining workers, they reopened in 1991 and 1995.

Today the units have a combined 2,285 megawatts of dependable generation capacity. Since going back online, the units keep a low profile because they run efficiently. For instance, Unit 3 ran non-stop for 669 days before going offline for refueling in 2002.

Industry experts say the nation needs 60 new plants if nuclear power is to maintain its 20 percent share of the market over the next quarter of a century.

There's obviously no problem with that plan here where million dollar homes continue to be built within site of Browns Ferry. The plant can be the poster child for the maturing of the nuclear industry, but the government must resolve the storage issues before allowing the construction of new facilities.

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