TVA brings in additional 1,500 workers for Browns Ferry 3 refueling outage

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has taken Unit 3 of the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama out of service for a regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage early Feb. 20.

An additional 1,500 TVA and contract employees are supplementing the site’s regular staff during the scheduled outage, TVA said in a news release.

Approximately 15,500 work activities are planned, including loading new fuel assemblies, performing inspections of reactor components, conducting maintenance and upgrades of plant equipment and installing modifications to improve safety margins.

The Browns Ferry team will also install upgraded equipment that supports a planned extended power uprate for all three units that will add 465 MW of generating capability, TVA said.

Currently the three boiling water reactor (BWR) units at Brows Ferry station can together produce 3,400 MW.

Browns Ferry Unit 3 is one of six operational TVA nuclear reactors that collectively supply nearly one-third of all electricity used by more than 9 million people across the Tennessee Valley. A seventh reactor, Watts Bar Unit 2, recently completed construction and fuel load, and is continuing a series of tests to ensure operational readiness.

“Outages like this are our best opportunity to prepare Unit 3 to continue to generate reliable, low-cost electricity for the next 24 months so we can better serve the people of the Tennessee Valley,” said Steve Bono, site vice president. “Beyond loading new fuel, we also do the maintenance and upgrades on plant equipment that help ensure Unit 3 operates safely and dependably in the coming months.”

The Browns Ferry complex is located on 840 acres beside Wheeler Reservoir near Athens, Ala.

The last regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage at Unit 3 ran 30 days and ran from mid-February to mid-March, according to Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) data. A General Electric (NYSE:GE) affiliate, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has signed a new contract for outage services at the three Browns Ferry units.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) data released early Feb. 22 indicated that only eight of the nation’s 100 nuclear units were listed at zero power generation. One of the eight was TVA’s Watts Bar 2, which has yet to actually start commercial operation.

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.