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TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2 Begins Initial Operations Making it the First Nuclear Energy Start-Up in Decades

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear Unit 2 generated electricity onto its power grid for the first time on Friday, June 3 — notable because this is the first nuclear plant start up in decades.

While it will come online in phases, what began last week is the initial test run of generation equipment. The data gathered will then be used to help the federally-owned wholesaler of electricity go all-in by late 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, in a statement. “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.”

Originally licensed in 1972, it shut down in the 1980s because of security and economic concerns. But the newfound emphasis on carbon-free base-load power has given the plant new life. Once the plant is fully operational, it will generate up to 1,150 megawatts of electricity.


America’s newest nuclear reactor is offline right now, while workers deal with a problem relating to its startup.

The Unit Two reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City was in the middle of testing at the first level of power generation, when an unknown problem in the main turbine control system triggered a reactor shut down on Sunday at 12:27 p.m.

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