Sales Down, Power Back at TVA

After four months on the sidelines, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s new nuclear reactor at Watts Bar is once again producing power, even though its absence did not appear to affect the power provider.

The Tennessee Valley Authority said its newest nuclear reactor is back online amid a period of slumping sales. (Photo By: TVA)

The Tennessee Valley Authority said its newest nuclear reactor is back online amid a period of slumping sales. (Photo By: TVA)

TVA said Watts Bar Unit 2, which started generating power last October, resumed operations on August 2. It was the first new reactor in the United States since 1996. A ruptured condenser had idled the 1,201-megawatt unit since late March.

The authority said the loss of Watts Bar did not hurt its bottom line, as it reported electricity sales were down 1.2 percent for the quarter ending June 30, compared with the same period a year ago, and 1.5 percent for the nine-month period.

TVA representatives said the repair work was difficult because there is little room to maneuver inside the three-story-high condenser.

However, crews wrapped up the fixes, estimated at $29 million in materials and labor, when it was most needed, said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson.

The reactor resumed producing power "just in time to help us meet our peak demand during those hot August days ahead," Johnson said during a call discussing TVA's quarterly financial results.

For the nine months ending June 30, TVA reported a 5 percent increase in operating revenues to $7.7 billion despite the slide in sales, which it attributed to mild weather.

Net income for the nine months was $546 million, down 5 percent from net income of $572 million for the same period in fiscal 2016.

"While conditions improved in the third quarter, our financials continue to reflect the warm, dry conditions and lower hydroelectric output in the first half of the fiscal year, along with higher average natural gas prices," Johnson said.

Chief Financial Officer John Thomas said TVA has reduced operating expenses by more than $800 million a year through belt-tightening measures.

"This is especially important in a year like 2017 when we have more challenging operating conditions," he said.

TVA provides power to 155 electric cooperatives and municipal systems across seven states.

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