TVA Brings New Nuke to the Grid with Synchronization of Watts Bar Unit 2

On Friday, June 3, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar Unit 2 began supplying electricity to the grid, making it the first commercial American nuclear reactor to be added to the grid in 20 years. The synchronization of the 1,150 MW reactor is the culmination of a 43-year journey for Unit 2. TVA began construction on the unit in 1973 but suspended work from 1985-2007. The addition of Unit 2 to Watts Bar’s Unit 1 will provide a combined capacity of more than 2,200 MW, which will provide carbon free electricity to approximately 1.3 million homes.

Two days after initial synchronization, the reactor automatically tripped when problems developed in the turbine system in the non-nuclear side of the plant. Despite this initial setback, the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2 is an important step toward TVA’s goal of generating at least half of its energy from non-carbon emitting sources by 2020.

Key Details

  • TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes called Friday’s synchronization “another major step in fully integrating Watts Bar Unit 2 as the seventh operating unit in TVA’s nuclear fleet”
  • After “full plant testing” of systems and controls, TVA expects the new reactor to be at 100% power later this summer
  • The total estimated cost for construction of Unit 2 is approximately $6.7 billion (approximately $1.7 billion was spent prior to 1985, and approximately $4.7 billion has been spent since the project was restarted in 2007)

More Information

SNL: TVA’s Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor generates 1st power

SNL: TVA’s Watts Bar 2 temporarily offline after turbine issue

Nuclear Street News: Unit 2 at Watts Bar Begins Producing Electricity

Utility Dive: TVA Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit shuts down hours after first grid connection

This report is part of ScottMadden’s Nuclear Minute series. To view all featured Nuclear Minutes, please click here.

Additional Contributing Authors: Marcus Siwemuke, Hank Bowden

View More

Welcome to ScottMadden!

Sussex Economic Advisors is now part of ScottMadden. We invite you to learn more about our expanded firm. Please use the Contact Us form to request additional information.