The Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar nuclear Unit 2 generated electricity onto power gird for the first time on Friday.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is officially synced to the grid and licensed reactor operators have begun an initial test run of generation equipment. The team is using this run to collect data to be sure generating equipment is prepared for continuous full-power operation later this summer.

“This is another major step in fully integrating Watts Bar Unit 2 as the seventh operating unit in TVA’s nuclear fleet,” said TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes. “It is rewarding to see TVA taking the lead on delivering the first new nuclear unit of the 21st century and providing safe, affordable and reliable electricity to those we serve.”

The next step for Unit 2 is full-plant testing of systems and controls at increasing reactor power levels up to 100% power. These test will be repeated multiple times to ensure the plant operates safely as designed. 

Watts Bar Unit 2, like Unit 1, produces electricity using controlled nuclear fission to generate heat, which is used to produce steam to turn turbines and a single, large generator. 

Once all power ascension tests have been completed successfully, Watts Bar Unit 2 will provide up to 1,150 megawatts of safe, low-cost, carbon-free electricity to the Tennessee Valley. Combined with Watts Bar Unit 1, the plant will supply power to roughly 1.3 million homes in the TVA service area.