TVA head predicts future use of spent fuel

By The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee Valley Authority chief Tom Kilgore predicts the federal utility will one day use its spent nuclear fuel to generate electricity.

“I’ll make a prediction,” he said to a questioner who asked about spent fuel recycling. “One of these days we’ll go out there and start mining those dry casks,” he said. TVA stores spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors at the sites.

Kilgore, president and CEO of TVA, spoke to Chattanooga area engineers on Thursday and noted that the process is already used elsewhere.

“France does it now. We just don’t have the political will to do it,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore delivered the keynote speech at the Chattanooga Engineers Week 2012 banquet on why nuclear power is still needed.

“We build nuclear to keep your rates down. The best economic tool we have — and we are in the economic development business — is to keep rates low,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore also stressed TVA’s safety record. He said he was pleased with the decision of the utility’s nuclear chief to stand down work at the Watts Bar Unit 2 to get workers’ attention. The decision by Mike Skaggs came after a construction crew removed a part from the operating Unit 1, rather than the unfinished reactor they were building.

TVA recently announced Unit 2 will not be competed by 2013 as expected and will exceed its $2.49 billion budget.