CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Valley Authority wants to reassure power consumers of its plans to expand nuclear operations and its commitment to retool the Watts Bar Unit 2 project, which has been under scrutiny for delays and expensive overages.
On Wednesday, TVA officials met with more than 100 Bradley County business and community leaders at the Museum Center at Five Points to review revised plans for constructing the second nuclear reactor at Watts Bar.
Unit 2 now is projected to be complete by late 2015 and is expected to cost about $4 billion -- three years later and double the cost of the original estimate.
"Moving forward, we are using our lessons learned," said Raymond A. Hruby, general manager of technical services at TVA's Watts Bar Unit 2.
Internal and external audits revealed core deficiencies that undermined the Watts Bar "mega-project," said Hruby, including leadership, cost estimates, construction and oversight.
The revamped project encompasses new leadership, revised budgets and timetables, and a recommitment to transparency and continuous improvement, Hruby said.
"It's a major project that the country hasn't done in a long time, so we're reaching out and bringing in a lot of expertise from the industry, bringing some people out of retirement, to help us out with this experience," said Hruby. "We've put together a very, very capable team to help us complete this unit."
The Watts Bar project definitely impacts local industry, and it is important that they hear directly from TVA, said Lisa Pickel, director of existing industry programs for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
Watts Bar Unit 2 is just one aspect of a greater shift toward nuclear power in the next decade, according to Hruby.
The new power plant, Hruby said, will contribute significantly to TVA's overarching goals of providing cleaner, more efficient and more stable sources of electrical power.
The increased budget for Watts Bar Unit 2 is not expected to impact consumer electrical rates, according to prior statements by TVA CEO Tom Kilgore.
TVA is a critical component of industrial development, said Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who stated he was pleased to see that corrective measures were in place for the Watts Bar Unit 2 project.
"It's hard to ever underestimate the importance of TVA to East Tennessee," said Bell.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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