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The First U.S. Nuclear Plant In 20 Years Goes Online

Watts Bar

Roughly 650,000 homes in Tennessee will be powered by the first nuclear power generator to enter into commercial operation in the United States in 20 years, according to a new report by The Hill.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 reactor will produce 1,150 megawatts of power, the company’s announcement on Wednesday said.

The Nuclear Energy Institute counts Watts Bar 2, which formally connected to Tennessee’s power grid in June, as the 100th nuclear power reactor to operate in the United States.

Before Wednesday, the company said the reactor, which will be the federally owned corporation’s sixth nuclear facility, had slowly been ramping up production.

“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,” President and CEO Bill Johnson said in a statement representing TVA.

“Watts Bar Unit 2 is a key part of our commitment to produce cleaner energy without sacrificing the reliability and low cost that draws both industry and residents to our area.”

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The reactor has taken decades to bring into operation due to changing governmental regulations.

In 1973, TVA began building Watts Bar 2, but the project had to be put on hold in 1985. The company restarted construction in 2007 and completed the process last year after spending $4.7 billion on the project. The facility is the first to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after Japan’s Fukushima disaster prompted the passage of new codes of operation.

The Energy Information Administration expects four more nuclear reactors to begin generating power across the United States over the next four years.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • G.R.L. Cowan on October 21 2016 said:
    Numerous American nuclear power reactors have gone into service in the past 20 years. What's different about Watts Bar 2 is that the fossil fuel it will replace — around $6 billion worth, if it's gas and gas stays cheap — would not have been burned tax-free by the Navy.

    So government is accepting a substantial loss of fossil fuel income by allowing this.

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