TVA takes Watts Bar 1 offline temporarily for switchyard inspection

After a switchyard fire earlier in the week prompted the new Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit to go offline, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has also temporarily taken Watts Bar 1 out of service, a spokesperson said Sept. 2.

Watts Bar Unit 1 was taken off-line temporarily beginning at 3:12 pm EDT on Thursday Sept. 1, “so workers can safely inspect de-energized equipment in its switchyard,” said TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson.

“Unit 1 equipment has operated as designed since a transformer fire occurred in the switchyard Tuesday night,” Hopson said. “TVA has made the conservative decision to thoroughly inspect adjacent equipment as a precautionary measure. Unit 1 will return to normal operation after the temporary down power.

The Aug. 30 oil fire in the switchyard has, at least briefly, slowed the full commercialization of the new Watts Bar 2 nuclear generator. Since it synched to the grid a few months ago, TVA has been testing the reactor at increasingly higher generation levels, which has hit about 99%.

TVA has not yet declared Watts Bar 2 in “commercial operation,” which is largely an accounting term, according to TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson. Units 1 and 2 are both pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and each has a generating capacity of more than 1,150 MW.

Early Sept. 2 Watts Bar 1 was listed at 10% power and Watts Bar 2 was listed at zero power, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reactor status update.

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.