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TVA orders new generator before unit is completed

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The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, TN. TVA photo The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, TN. TVA photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

Even before TVA finishes building its new nuclear unit, the utility is preparing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to replace faulty steam generators in the new reactor within the first decade of its operation.

TVA directors voted Thursday to pay $160 million to Westinghouse to build four steam generators to replace those in the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, TN. The existing steam generators were built with a metal alloy that has prematurely developed leaks and other problems at other nuclear plants. But the faulty equipment was installed decades ago and TVA determined it would be too costly to replace those units during the construction of the second reactor at Watts Bar, which has been under construction or maintenance now for more than 40 years.

TVA previously had to replace steam generators at three other comparable units -- two at the Sequoyah plant near Soddy-Daisy and the other at Watts Bar Unit 1 -- by cutting holes in the top of the container buildings and removing the faulty steam generators. Planning and installation of the new equipment is expected to cost nearly $200 million, bringing the total costs of the new equipment, installation and lost power for the Watts Bar steam generator project to more than $300 million.

Chip Pardee, chief operating officer for TVA, said buying the replacement units now is expected to save $47 million from what TVA would have to spend if it bought the equipment later once the units started showing signs of failure.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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