The Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit has a lengthy and well-chronicled history. Construction began on the unit in 1973. It was suspended in 1985 due to slower electricity demand growth, rising construction costs due to inflation and new regulatory requirements stemming from the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, and regulatory concerns throughout the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) nuclear fleet.
A study was conducted—beginning in 2006—to evaluate energy needs, schedule, cost, environmental impacts, and financial risks for Unit 2. After serious deliberation, TVA’s board decided to resume construction, which recommenced in 2008. Although more delays ensued, the unit was completed and entered commercial operation on October 19, 2016.
On this episode of The POWER Podcast, Mike Skaggs, executive vice president of operations with TVA, explains the process the organization went through to complete the unit. Skaggs was intimately involved in the project as a member of the Watts Bar Operations and Construction group. When it entered commercial operation, Watts Bar 2 was the first new nuclear unit added to the U.S. fleet in more than 20 years.
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—Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)