NRC gives nod to Watts Bar-2 power uprate

October 30, 2020, 9:27AMNuclear News

Watts Bar Unit 2. Photo: TVA

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request from the Tennessee Valley Authority to increase the generating capacity of Unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant by 1.4 percent, according to an October 27 press release from the agency. TVA submitted its application for the power uprate on October 10, 2019, and the NRC issued the required license amendment on October 21.

The power uprate, which TVA intends to implement by mid-December, will increase Unit 2’s generating capacity from approximately 1,223 MWe to 1,240 MWe.

“The NRC staff determined that TVA could safely increase the reactor’s output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow,” the press release stated, adding, “NRC staff also reviewed the TVA evaluations demonstrating that the plant’s design can safely handle the increased power level.”

Background: The NRC published a notice regarding the power uprate application in the Federal Register in March, providing the public an opportunity to comment or request a hearing. The agency’s evaluation of the Watts Bar-2 power uprate can be found here.

Located near Spring City, Tenn., Watts Bar houses two four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The construction of both units began in 1973 but was suspended in 1985, due in part to a drop in power demand. TVA subsequently resumed work on Unit 1, which began commercial operation in May 1996. In 2007, the TVA board of directors voted to resume work on Unit 2. On October 19, 2016, Watts Bar-2 entered commercial operation, becoming the first new reactor to come on line in the United States in 20 years.

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