Tellico land swap, fuel contracts on TVA board agenda

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com
The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors is meeting today in Chickamauga, Ga., to consider a number of power, and non-power items, including the exchange of a portion of ground once held sacred by the Cherokee Nation to a company which plans to build a housing and golf course development.
The TVA board will be asked to approve the sale of approximately 116.4 acres to LTR Properties Inc., developer of "Rarity Communities."
"A little over a year ago, a developer requested that TVA sell him [116.4 acres]. It went through a public meeting process, basically did a scoping meeting, and he showed what he wanted to do -- create residential housing and a championship golf course, but of course, that was TVA land," said Gil Francis, TVA Media Relations.
After 13 months of negotiations, he said, staff came up with a plan whereby the developer would purchase 273.6 acres which would be given to TVA, plus the difference in appraised value. Francis said the TVA land will appraise higher than the acreage it will receive in exchange.
"In addition to that, there's a certain number of mitigation things he has to do in terms of protecting land and providing rights of ways," Francis said. "The board will vote on whether or not to approve the sale of property and land use."
The area to be sold is "part of the Tellico property, which has had a controversial history," Francis said.
In 1980, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a U.S. District Court decision giving TVA the go-ahead to complete the Tellico Dam project. Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and others petitioned the court to stop building the Tellico Dam and Reservoir on the Little Tennessee River.
Tribal members opposed the TVA action, saying it would abridge their First Amendment right to freedom of worship and that it would deny them access to the area and its sacred sites and historic villages, flood the burial grounds of their ancestors, and disturb the relationship between physical and spiritual worlds, according to the Encyclopedia of Native American Religions.
The Cherokee said that though they had been forcibly removed to Oklahoma, they still had religious, cultural and historic ties to their homeland. A Cherokee medicine man testified that flooding from the Tellico Dam project would result in the loss of medicine gathering sites, sacred knowledge, and spiritual power and strength, the encyclopedia states.
The Appeals Court ruled in Sequoyah V. Tennessee Valley Authority that religious concerns were separate from cultural or historical interests and that invoking the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 or the National Historic Preservation Act could not overcome the congressional mandate to complete and operate Tellico Dam. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
TVA's Francis said the utility and the Cherokee now are in the public meeting stage of a potential project. "There is a piece of land that the Indians want to use to develop a resort/hotel type thing. That's just something they've been trying to do for 10 years and they finally got a development company to work with them on that."
The TVA Board also will consider today supplementing fuel contracts to French nuclear giant Framatome ANP and Westinghouse.
"That's for fuel supply for the nuclear plants," Francis said. "Westinghouse supplies the fuel for Watts Bar because it's a Westinghouse plant, and Framatome is doing Browns Ferry." Framatome also is doing a contract for fuel reload at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, he said.
"There's another thing happening at Browns Ferry where we're going to use the highly enriched uranium that's blended down to commercial fuel," Francis said. Framatome has subcontracted the blend-down to Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. of Erwin.
"Framatome will do the blending on that and then the material will go to Richland, Wash., to be made into fuel," he said. "It's a little bit different because of where the uranium is coming from, but they're both for fuel supply. The highly enriched uranium was at one time used for defense purposes."
TVA will receive four more fuel batches for its Sequoyah and Watts Bar pressurized water reactors, at a cost of $45 million each. "We already have a contract in place to do this but we're going to get four more batches," Francis said.
"Sequoyah and Watts Bar are both Westinghouse plants. Browns Ferry is a General Electric plant. At Browns Ferry they're going to have work to support the refueling when we do it there for those two units, and that increases the contract just under $9 million."
TVA also is looking at approving a six-year contract worth $131 million with Peabody Coalsales Co., for purchase of low-sulfur coal from Colorado's Powder River Basin to help the utility meet Clean Air Act requirements, according to Francis.
The board also will decide whether to approve the issuance, sale and delivery of TVA Power Bonds and delegation of authority to amend the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc., Credit Support Annex between TVA and Morgan Stanley Capital Services Inc., and to enter into currency swap arrangements with Morgan Stanley.
TVA has been selling bonds on the international market, Francis said. "It's that particular bond that we issued that we got a lot of international purchases on." The bonds are sold to individuals, not necessarily companies, he said.