- Tennessee Valley Authority's new unit at the Watts Bar nuclear plant automatically shut down over the weekend just hours after being connected to the grid for the first time.
- Platts reports the utility is currently investigating the problem and has no timeline for restarting the reactor. The shutdown occurred Sunday.
- The 1,150-MW Watts Bar 2 reactor is the first new nuclear energy to be connected to the United States grid in two decades. Less than three weeks ago, the unit achieved its first sustained nuclear fission reaction.
Just a few weeks ago progress on starting the new Watts Bar reactor was moving ahead smoothly, with TVA announcing “initial criticality” of Unit 2 in March. The utility was slowly ramping up power and had reached 18% power, Platts reports, when it automatically shut down shortly after being connected to the power grid.
TVA is investigating the issue and does not have a schedule for restarting the new unit.
The new unit cost $4.7 billion to develop, and is part of a long-term plan during which TVA will also add up to 3,800 MW of solar and 1,750 MW of wind by 2033.
Achieving initial criticality is a "milestone," Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes said in a statement following that announcement. “While this achievement is important, safety remains our top priority and we will now move forward with fully integrating the seventh unit into the fleet with that focus in mind.”
TVA said that once the unit is online and all tests have been completed successfully, Watts Bar units 1 and 2 will supply power to roughly 1.3 million homes in the utility's service area.