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March 27, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Nuclear emphasis in Tennessee depends of funding, workforce, and a more robust supply chain

A panel of members from the Tennessee Nuclear Advisory Council discussed those needs during Tuesday's annual meeting of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.

In answer to a question from moderator Tracy Boatner about what it would take for Tennessee to become the nuclear epicenter of the U.S., Knoxville’s H.M. “Hash” Hashemian offered a two-word answer: “A lot.”

Later acknowledging that he was not being pessimistic, the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS) said he was referencing money and workforce, later adding a more robust supply chain to the equation. His other panelists seemed to agree with his assessment.

“Nuclear is very expensive, particularly a first-of-a-kind,” Hashemian said in reference to the small modular reactor that is being proposed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor site.

His comments were made during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) held Tuesday afternoon at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub in Franklin where Hashemian and Boatner, President and CEO of the East Tennessee Economic Council, were joined by two other members of the Tennessee Nuclear Advisory Council who discussed the challenges for the industry that has become a priority for Governor Bill Lee. The other panelists were Don Moul, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at TVA, and Lang Wiseman, former Deputy to Governor Bill Lee and Chief Counsel who is now a shareholder at Baker Donelson.

Wiseman explained the origin of the focus on nuclear, noting that many of the companies being recruited to the Volunteer State had above average energy load requirements.

“We were one of only four states that experienced growth during COVID,” he added, and the Governor wanted to ensure that he positioned Tennessee for continued economic growth.

That led to the creation of the Nuclear Advisory Council by executive order and another action by the Tennessee General Assembly to include a $50 million incentive fund in the FY23-24 budget to attract nuclear companies to the state. Ironically, the first company to receive funding under that program – Type One Energy Group Inc. – was represented at the meeting by Matt Miles, its Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Marketing. (Click here to read the February 25 announcement in

Wiseman also announced that the Governor’s amendment to the appropriations bill that he introduced earlier this year was “dropped” on Tuesday, and it included another $10 million for the nuclear energy incentive program.

TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan

Brian Child, TVA’s Vice President for Enterprise Planning, provided the 65-plus attendees at the event an update on the Integrated Resource Plan which has been delayed. Last revised in 2019, he said, “We know our plans for the future will never unfold exactly as we expect.”

TVA has developed five scenarios and five strategies which ends up producing 25 different portfolios or possibilities (5 times 5 is 25). The five scenarios are:

  • A current forecast;
  • One that calls for higher growth;
  • Another that calls for stagnant growth;
  • One that is based on more stringent carbon regulation; and
  • The final scenario that includes both carbon regulation and growth.

The five strategies are:

  • Base utility planning;
  • Two involving carbon deceleration, one involving carbon-free innovations still being developed and the other depending on currently available carbon-free technologies;
  • Another based on a distributed and demand-side focus; and
  • One that is based on the resiliency of the TVA system.

Other Sessions

  • Marc Gibson, Acting CEO of the TEAM TN statewide consortium that was designated as one of the 44 recipients of a National Science Foundation (NSF) “NSF Engines Development Award,” provided a rapid-fire update on the program – its goals and major next steps.
  • Molly Cripps, Director of the Office on Energy Programs in the Department of Environment and Conservation, moderated a panel of the topic of “Siting Solar.” She was joined by: Chris Bowles, Partner at Bradley; Gina Brown, Senior Director of Economic and Community Development at Silicon Ranch; Brad Gibson, COO for Middle Tennessee Electric; and Mandy White, Chief Economic Development Officer with the Greater Jackson Chamber.
  • Anca Timofte, Co-Founder and CEO of Holocene and a new member of the TAEBC, provided an overview of her company whose tagline is “building the future of the direct air capture industry.”

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