UPDATE: For the first time in years, news cameras were allowed inside of TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Wednesday. The Tennessee Valley Authority is celebrating the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2. Officials say it's the nation's first new nuclear generation in 20 years.
The second nuclear unit joins 6 other operating nuclear units to supply more than one third of the region's nuclear power. Nuclear power remains the only source of carbon-free energy that is available 24 hours a day.
"TVA's nuclear fleet of 7 reactors provides nearly 40 percent of the Valley's energy and nationally nuclear produces almost 20 percent of the electricity or 1 in 5 houses," said Joe Grimes, TVA executive vice president of generation and chief nuclear officer.
It took a little more than 9 years for the $4.7 billion dollar construction project to be completed, bringing in more than 200 new jobs to the area. Many people came out of retirement to get the job done.
"Building a nuclear plant is almost inconceivable even to those of us who do it for a living," said Bill Johnson, TVA president and CEO " It's just an unbelievably large project."
With an even larger footprint in providing clean, carbon free energy for the Tennessee Valley.
"TVA's mission is to make life better in the valley by providing reliable, low-cost energy, protecting our area's natural resources and working to attract and growth," said Johnson.
"This unit directly will supply power for more than 650,000 homes," said Grimes.
After many levels of strict security and safety procedures, our cameras were allowed inside to see how it works.
"We are literally splitting the atom in the reactor," said Johnson. "We are releasing neutrons and the release of that neutron heats up water in the reactor, we turn that water into steam and the steam turns the turbines. The turbines turn the generator and that makes electricity. It's fairly magical, the whole process I will say."
Officials say the residents will be able to see the steam coming off the hot water before it's cooled down in the plant's cooling towers. President Bill Johnson says safety is a top priority.
" I want a lot of families right around here to know how safe, how reliable, how seriously we take out obligation here," said Johnson. "We will be an excellent neighbor as we have been for many years but this is a very safe, very dedicated responsible team."
Watts Bar, Sequoyah, and Browns Ferry Nuclear Stations have contributed to reducing TVA's carbon emissions by 30 % since 2005 , officials say that reduction will rise to 60% by the year 2020.
To find out more information about Watts Bar Unit 2 and it's operation, CLICK HERE.
ORIGINAL STORY: The TVA's and the country's first new nuclear generation in 20 years has officially opened for business.
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2 successfully completed an extensive series of power tests and reliably operated at full power for more than three weeks, according to the agency.
“TVA’s mission is to make life better in the Valley by providing reliable, low-cost energy, protecting our area’s natural resources and working to attract business and growth – all priorities simultaneously supported by the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2,” said Bill Johnson, TVA president and CEO.
The $4.7 billion capital construction project was completed on budget, according to the TVA.
Watts Bar Unit 2 has already provided consumers across the Valley with more than 500 million kilowatt/hours of carbon-free energy during testing. It now joins six other operating TVA nuclear units to supply more than one-third of the region’s generating capacity, and meeting the electric needs of more than 4.5 million homes.
Watts Bar, Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear stations have also contributed to reducing TVA’s carbon emissions by 30 percent since 2005, a reduction that will rise to 60 percent by 2020.