TVA still on track for Watts Bar 2 deployment in 2015

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and its new President and CEO Bill Johnson said the federal utility is still on track to start commercial operation of the never-completed Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit in late 2015.

TVA is still on its revised budget of between $4bn and $4.5bn to complete Watts Bar 2, Johnson said during TVA’s regular quarterly earnings call on Feb. 5.

TVA had started working toward completion of the 1,100-MW 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.

TVA overhauled its management of the Watts Bar 2 construction project in Tennessee more than a year ago because of schedule and budget issues.

The federal utility said electricity sales were relatively flat during its first quarter of FY 2013. (A federal utility, TVA does not use a calendar year as its fiscal year).

In addition, Johnson said that over the next several months TVA will busy updating its integrated resource plan for its generation needs. Johnson also declined to commit to completion of the never-completed Bellefonte nuclear project in Alabama.

Johnson said TVA is concentrating on completing Watts Bar 2. Bellefonte is a project that will be looked at closely as part of long-term resource planning. TVA is “maintaining the asset” at the Bellefonte site and doing certain engineering work on the project.

The utility also announced in early January that it had completed steam generator replacement at the Sequoyah 2 nuclear unit in Tennessee.

TVA is also working to address heightened oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant.

The new TVA CEO said that the Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage hydro plant near Chattanooga, and its 1,600 MW of generating capacity, is still offline. Various pieces of equipment have been ordered to try and get the units back online this year, Johnson said.

TVA officials also said that the latest financial figures were affected by tough times at USEC (NYSE: USU), the uranium enrichment company that is TVA’s biggest industrial customer.

TVA had expected to lose USEC as a customer in 2012 but signed a one-year extension at a reduced amount, officials said.

Johnson also said that he has spent his first 35 days on the job traveling across the TVA region and listening to the utility’s employees. Johnson was named in November to replace retiring TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore. Johnson is the former CEO of Progress Energy.

TVA official said during the past fiscal year the utility was still finishing construction of new gas-fired generation at its John Severe power complex in Tennessee. TVA is retrofitting or retiring several coal units by 2018.

Higher off-system sales as a result of excess generation and closer to normal temperatures for the period, compared with even warmer weather a year ago, contributed to a slight 0.2% increase in total electricity sales, TVA said in its quarterly filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012.

TVA reported a net loss of $245m on operating revenues of $2.58bn in the first quarter of 2013, compared with a net loss of $173m on revenues of $2.57bn in the same period last year.

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.