In 2015, Bechtel completed construction of Watts Bar Unit 2, a Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plant that was placed on hold some 30 years ago. Unit 2 at Watts Bar in Spring City, Tennessee, was about 60 percent finished in 1985 when construction was halted due to a projected decrease in demand for electricity. In 2007, with demand again increasing, TVA decided to complete construction and awarded the project to Bechtel. The project brought the plant up to all current engineering standards. Watts Bar Unit 2 has been granted an operating license by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is the first new nuclear reactor to receive authorization to operate this century.
Work has achieved a 98-percent quality-control acceptance rate on the first inspection. In addition we achieved 33 million hours without a lost-time incident.
First nuclear plant to meet new, more stringent NRC standards
Watts Bar Unit 2 is a pressurized water reactor, in which water heated by nuclear fuel rods becomes steam that drives a turbine to generate power. When it goes on line in 2015, the unit will add nearly 1,200 megawatts to TVA’s power system—enough electricity to power some 650,000 homes—without generating greenhouse gases.
In June of 2015, Watts Bar became the first nuclear power plant in the United States to complete safety upgrades and meet new Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations established after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. It was commissioned in 2016.
Safe, quality work and local economic development
Watts Bar Unit 2 has employed nearly 3,200 workers during construction and will add about 250 permanent workers for operation of the plant. The project also provides economic benefits to the area through regional purchases of supplies and services.
Avoiding up to 8 million tons of carbon dioxide per year
Watts Bar Unit 2 will help meet the demand for electricity in the Tennessee Valley with low-cost, carbon-free electricity. It will help replace older, more costly, and less efficient coal units that are being retired. One nuclear unit can make as much electricity as five to ten coal units without carbon emissions. Experts estimate that Watts Bar Unit 2 will help TVA avoid coal-fired emissions of between 6 million and 8 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.