First New U.S. Nuclear Reactor in 20 Years
On October 19, 2016, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Watts Bar Unit 2 officially entered commercial operation after successfully completing an extensive series of power ascension tests and reliably operating at full power for more than three weeks, becoming the nation’s first new nuclear generation in 20 years.
“TVA’s mission is to make life better in the Valley by providing reliable, low-cost energy, protecting our area’s natural resources and working to attract business and growth—all priorities simultaneously supported by the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2,” said Bill Johnson, TVA President and CEO. “Watts Bar Unit 2 is a key part of our commitment to produce cleaner energy without sacrificing the reliability and low cost that draws both industry and residents to our area.”
According to TVA, the $4.7 billion capital construction project was completed on budget. The unit now moves to working asset status.
In announcing the milestone, TVA notes that the Watts Bar Unit 2 has already provided consumers across the Valley with more than 500 million kilowatt/hours of carbon-free energy during testing. It now joins six other operating TVA nuclear units to supply more than one third of the region’s generating capacity and meeting the electric needs of more than 4.5 million homes.
Watts Bar, Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear stations have also contributed to reducing TVA’s carbon emissions by 30 percent since 2005. According to TVA, the reduction will rise to 60 percent by 2020.
“Nuclear power remains the only source of carbon-free energy that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Joe Grimes, TVA Executive Vice President of Generation and Chief Nuclear Officer. “TVA believes that Watts Bar Unit 2, and other nuclear units like it across the Valley and the nation, represents a vital investment in our clean energy future.”