The Tennessee Valley Authority has received an operating license for its Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear reactor.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the license on Thursday, approving the process for TVA to begin putting the nation’s first new nuclear generation of the 21st century into service at the site near Spring City, Tenn.
“This achievement signifies more than a stage in construction for TVA,” said President and CEO Bill Johnson. “It demonstrates to the people of the Valley that we have taken every step possible to deliver low cost, carbon-free electricity safely and with the highest quality.
“Completing Watts Bar Unit 2 was a sound business decision made for the long-term good of the Tennessee Valley,” Johnson said. “The unit is essential to diversifying TVA’s power sources to assure the more than 9 million people served by TVA and its local power company partners have affordable and reliable electricity generated in an environmentally friendly manner.”
Receipt of the operating license marks the end of the construction on Watts Bar Unit 2. The Watts Bar team is focusing on and preparing for initial fuel load, which will require several weeks of work with ongoing NRC inspections and reviews, and readying all the key components and systems for operation. The unit is on schedule for operation in early 2016.
“Completing Watts Bar Unit 2 and successfully licensing one of the nation’s largest new nuclear generation projects is a historic milestone for TVA and the nuclear industry,” said TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes. “With the delivery of this unit, we are further positioning nuclear power as a key player in TVA’s – and the nation’s – energy portfolio and instilling confidence in TVA and the nuclear industry.”
At the height of construction the project employed more than 3,500 people. Crews reached more than 33 million work hours without a lost-time accident, reflecting the importance of safety and quality on the project.
“Issuance of the operating license for the nation’s first new nuclear unit of the 21st century is the result of a good team completing a tremendous amount of hard work and complex testing the right way – safely and with quality – and demonstrating that Unit 2 can be operated in a manner that ensures regulatory compliance,” said Mike Skaggs, senior vice president of Watts Bar Operations and Construction.
Together with already-operating Unit 1, Watts Bar will produce nearly 2,300 megawatts of carbon-free energy. That’s enough to power 1.3 million homes in the TVA service territory.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.