It may have been a 3-day holiday weekend for most federal employees, but workers and contractors at TVA’s oldest nuclear plant were busy over the weekend working on the first phase of what will one of the largest power upgrades of an existing U.S. nuclear plant.
TVA is installing new equipment on the Unit 3 reactor on its Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama as part of its refueling outage following a record 653-day run of power generation at the plant. The scheduled refueling and maintenance outage began early Saturdaymorning and will help TVA to boost the power output at the reactor by more than 14 percent, adding 155 megawatts of power once the refueling and equipment upgrades are completed.
TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said that in addition to the traditional outage work of loading 344 new fuel assemblies, a final round of modifications will be installed that will prepare Unit 3 to become the first of the three Browns Ferry units to operate at the Extended Power Uprate approved last year by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. New equipment is being added on both the nuclear and non-nuclear parts of Browns Ferry to generate more steam and to use that steam to produce more power.
Over the next year, TVA plans similar power upgrades on the other two reactors at Browns Ferry. In total, TVA is spending $475 million to add an additional 465 megawatts of electricity at the 3-unit plant, or enough to power an additional 280,000 homes.
“Outages are always important because it’s our opportunity to do the work necessary to safely and reliably generate electricity for the next two years,” said Lang Hughes, Browns Ferry site vice president. “There is added importance to this and our next two outages because we will complete the remaining work needed to operate each unit at extended power uprate conditions to serve the energy needs of the Tennessee Valley.”
During the outage, Browns Ferry’s regular staff will be supplemented by more than 2,100 additional TVA and contract employees. More than 15,600 work activities are scheduled, including maintenance and upgrades of plant equipment, inspections and repairs on reactor components and installing modifications to improve safety margins.
Browns Ferry is one of three nuclear plants TVA operates to produce nearly 40 percent of its total power.
Source: Times Free Press