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Watts Bar Nuclear Plant

image of watts bar nuclear plant

TVA’s third nuclear power plant, Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, is located on 1,700 acres on the northern end of Chickamauga Reservoir, in east Tennessee.

The plant was named for a sandbar at Watts Island that hampered navigation on the Tennessee River until it was flooded by Watts Bar Reservoir.

Groundbreaking on Watts Bar Nuclear Plant occurred in 1972, with major construction beginning a year later.

More than 1,100 TVA employees work at Watts Bar on both the operational Unit 1 and the Unit 2 construction project with an annual payroll of about $90.7 million.

Watts Bar Unit 1

  • Unit 1, the last commercial nuclear unit in the United States to come online in the 20th century, began commercial operation in May 1996. As of June 2012, Watts Bar Unit 1 has produced more than 143 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity. That’s equivalent to approximately $10 billion at average 2011 wholesale electricity prices without creating any greenhouse gases.
  • Unit 1 can produce about 1,100 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve 650,000 homes.
  • In its 17 years of safely generating electricity, Unit 1 has had an operating capacity factor of 93 percent. Its capacity factor of 99.0 percent in 2010 was the 6th-best among the nation's 104 commercial reactors, according to Electric Light & Power magazine.
  • In September 2000, Unit 1 completed its first “breaker-to-breaker run” – operating non-stop from one refueling outage to its next planned refueling outage – and its longest ever continuous operating run of 512 days, 21 hours, and 19 minutes.
  • Unit 1 completed its second “breaker-to-breaker” run of 437 days, 1 hour, and 36 minutes on February 10, 2008.
  • Watts Bar employees serve as Partners in Education with five area schools and participate in a Community Services Group, which contributes to the well-being of the residents in surrounding counties by providing food baskets, holding toy and clothing drives, and answering requests for needed assistance.

Watts Bar Unit 2

  • image of watts barIn August of 2007, following detailed studies of energy needs, schedule, costs, environmental impacts, and financial risks, TVA decided to complete construction of Unit 2 to help meet the Tennessee Valley’s growing demand for power.
  • Unit 2 will be the first new reactor to achieve commercial operations in the U.S. since Watts Bar Unit 1 in 1996.
  • Completing Unit 2 will put an existing asset to work for TVA customers and add more than 1,100 megawatts of generating capacity to the TVA power system.
  • Read more about construction at Watts Bar Unit 2.
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