TVA issues upbeat report on Watts Bar 2, sticks to 2015 completion date

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on Oct. 26 tried to show that it has overcome its earlier construction and budget problems at the Watts Bar 2 nuclear project in Spring City, Tenn.

TVA said in its first quarterly update on construction progress since a restructuring of the effort that it still expects to meet its revamped timeline and budget for completing the never-finished nuclear plant.

The project is on track for completion between September and December of 2015 and within a total cost range of $4bn to $4.5bn. TVA had started working toward completion of Watts Bar 2 in October 2007. The project was originally expected to be completed in October 2012 at a cost of just under $2.5bn.

In the past couple year or so, TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore has publicly apologized for the problems at Watts Bar 2, done an internal review and received much criticism both from the public and a report from TVA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Kilgore has also said that TVA has improved management and processes at the nuclear project. The CEO has also defended the 1,100-MW Watts Bar 2 as a project worth doing – event at the higher price.

In connection with the quarterly update, TVA also issued a three-minute video on Watts Bar 2, saying that 2,500 workers are currently involved in the project. Once operational, the nuclear plant should generate enough electricity for 650,000 homes.

Completing the second unit at Watts Bar was recommended in a resource plan for meeting TVA generation needs through 2020.

The update also verifies safety and quality remain high, and there are no new risks in the short term that could compromise project completion, TVA said.

“When the TVA board of directors approved the revised Watts Bar Unit 2 completion schedule, Nuclear Construction committed to providing quarterly progress updates,” said Mike Skaggs, TVA senior vice president for Nuclear Construction. “This was done to maintain the integrity of the estimate and transparency about our performance and how we are taking care of unfinished business at Watts Bar Unit 2.” 

As construction progresses, Skaggs said the Watts Bar site will focus on integrating the operations of the new Unit 2 with the existing Unit 1 to fulfill the facility’s original design as a two-unit station.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.