Watts Bar Unit 2 gets operating license - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Watts Bar Unit 2 gets operating license

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The Spring City reactor that will be the nation's first new nuclear generating plant of the 21st century has gotten the go-ahead from the federal government.

The Tennessee Valley Authority says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an operating license for Watts Bar Unit 2 on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference at the plant, TVA President Bill Johnson said the reactor will provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy. Nuclear reactors do not produce greenhouse gases, although some environmentalists dispute the "clean" label because reactors produce radioactive waste.

Johnson said it will still be several months before the plant begins commercial operation as workers begin the slow process of fueling, starting up and testing the reactor.

It is expected to produce 1,150 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 650,000 homes.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker hailed the news, “Today’s historic announcement is great news for the Tennessee Valley and for the future of nuclear power,” said Corker. “The second Watts Bar reactor will be the first U.S. nuclear plant of the 21st century and its safe completion is a testament to the outstanding leadership and hard work of so many across the valley. TVA’s ability to carry out its mission of providing clean, affordable, reliable power will be enhanced by the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2, and I thank all of those who have worked to make this a reality.”

“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.”    

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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