On October 19, the Tennessee Valley Authority activated the 1,150-megawatt Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor. This is the first new nuclear power plant to become operational in 20 years. Despite the length and expense of the project, the leadership of the TVA was happy with their decision to see the plant through to completion.
The TVA’s executive vice president and chief nuclear officer, Joe Grimes, stated
As we seek to produce even cleaner energy, zero-emissions nuclear power is key to helping us achieve ambitious climate goals. The team that built this plant took the time necessary to do it right to make sure that Unit 2 serves the Tennessee Valley for decades to come.
Watts Bar 2 is already providing power to 650,000 homes in the Tennessee Valley and is expected to operate for 40 years. Given that 81 of 100 nuclear plants operating in the US are operating with renewed licenses extended beyond their initial term of operation, Watts Bar 2 can potentially function well beyond 40 years.
There are only two other nuclear plants in the US undergoing construction, the Summer plant in South Carolina and the Vogtle plant in Georgia, both of which are receiving additional reactor units. Both are expected to begin operations in 2018.
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