This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Browns Ferry 1 is First "New" Nuclear Reactor in 11 Years
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) restarted Unit 1 at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama on May 22nd, completing the first startup of an essentially new nuclear reactor in the United States in 11 years. Originally started up in 1973, Browns Ferry was shut down in 1985, but in 2002 the TVA Board approved a five-year plan to extensively refurbish and restart the plant at a cost of $1.8 billion. On May 15th, TVA received permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the reactor, and the utility achieved a self-sustaining nuclear reaction early in the morning on May 22nd. TVA is currently conducting tests on the reactor and the other plant systems to ensure that safety systems operate correctly. Following these and other tests, the unit will be reconnected to the TVA power system for normal full-power operation. See the TVA press release and Browns Ferry 1 fact sheet (PDF 174 KB). Download Adobe Reader.
TVA is also the utility that started the last nuclear reactor before the 11-year dry spell. The Watts Bar 1 nuclear reactor in Tennessee came online in February 1996. Its sister plant, Watts Bar 2, was about 80 percent complete when construction was halted in the early 1990s. TVA is now performing a detailed study to determine if Watts Bar 2 should be completed. See the TVA fact sheet on its nuclear program (PDF 715 KB) and the Watts Bar summary from DOE's Energy Information Administration.