Theodore Besmann: Nuclear energy best for long-term needs
A year remains until the scheduled completion of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 nuclear plant. This represents a significant national milestone, as Watts Bar will be the first U.S. power reactor completed in this century.
Construction was suspended around 1985 as TVA focused on completing Unit 1, leaving Unit 2 on the back burner. More than 20 years later, in 2007, TVA analyses of costs and power needs justified restarting construction, and it was once again in the business of building a nuclear plant. While costly missteps occurred early in the construction process, Watts Bar 2 has become a model for how to build a plant safely within schedule and on budget.
TVA is cautious about claiming how it will provide increasingly clean power for the region, but clearly the 1,150 megawatts from Watts Bar 2 will allow accelerated shutdown of more coal-fired plants. The Watts Bar plant leads a modest start in new construction within the U.S., with only two other units being built in Georgia and two in South Carolina.