LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala - The Tennessee Valley Authority recently wrapped up $475 million upgrades at Browns Ferry - the company's oldest nuclear facility.
Browns Ferry can now supply power to 280,000 more homes now that the extended power uprate is complete. Extending the plant's power uprate was a process that began in 2018. This was after the nuclear regulatory commission approved the plan in 2017.
"We took the couple of years to finish the big major modifications, pumps, and rotors, you know the big heavy several tons of equipment, 19,000-pound equipment that you put in a plant to make this all work," said Malinda Hunter, TVA spokesperson.
Browns Ferry is the second-largest nuclear plant in the country. It's also TVA's oldest nuclear facility. Crews broke ground on the plant in the 1960s.
Hunter says the facility is an important part of the company's past and its future.
"Initial operations began in the early 1970s, but we have an extended license so browns ferry still has a lot of life left in it. That's why it's a good investment," Hunter said.
Utilizing nuclear power is one way TVA is working to cut its carbon footprint.
"About 60% of the power you use today from TVA is carbon-free we're working to increase that every day," Hunter explained. "Since 2005 we have been really working on a carbon reduction initiative we're at nearly 60% carbon reduction since 2005 and we have a goal of being 70% in the reduction by 2030."
The extended power uprate at the plant falls in line with that goal.
"It just provides an additional carbon-free resource that we invested in an existing asset to produce," she said.
While the plant is now operating at this new increased capacity - the changes are still under a 90-day review from the NRC.