New Tennessee reactor becomes nation’s first of 21st century

Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant
In this April 29, 2015 photo, cooling towers for Unit 1, right, and Unit 2, left, are shown at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, Tenn. Construction of Unit 2 was started, abandoned, then relaunched again, becoming a cautionary tale for the power industry. The plant remains a work-in-progress for the Tennessee Valley Authority. In a bizarre turn, what could soon become the newest U.S. nuclear plant is a piece of 1970s-era technology.(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

SPRING CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee reactor is now complete, making it the nation’s first new nuclear generating plant of the 21st century.

News outlets report the Tennessee Valley Authority on Wednesday morning officially declared the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant operational after more than nine years of construction and $4.7 billion in expenses.

TVA President Bill Johnson says the new reactor in Spring City will provide TVA a carbon-free, reliable source of baseload power for at least the next 40 years.

The reactor is expected to produce 1,150 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 650,000 homes.

There are now 100 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States. TVA, which operates seven of those reactors, does not currently have any plans to build more.

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