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Last updated 6:02AM ET
February 25, 2021
Browns Ferry Unit 3 Reactor Shuts Down
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Tennessee Valley Authority officials are investigating what caused the Unit 3 reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens to shutdown.

It happened around 9:40 p.m. on New Year's Eve, when the main turbine generator had a signal failure, disconnecting the generator from the power grid and forcing the shutdown, TVA spokesman John Moulton told The Huntsville Times for a story Saturday.

TVA said Friday it still had not determined the reason for the signal failure and was continuing to work on the problem. Moulton said the unit would not restart until the cause was identified.

The turbines are powered by steam generated by the heat from the nuclear reactor, but the problem was not directly related to the reactor, said Ken Clark, an Atlanta-based spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Clark said the Unit 3 shutdown did not stem from the kinds of problems that have hampered the Unit 1 reactor at Browns Ferry. Unit 1 has experienced five unplanned shutdowns since it was returned to service in May 2007, after being offline for 22 years.

NRC officials conducted an enhanced inspection late last year of Unit 1 following its last shutdown. The inspection report is expected to be released in late January or early February, Clark said.

The Unit 3 shutdown came as TVA reported that it set a new record for seasonal peak power demand on Jan. 2.

Faced with an average temperature in the Tennessee Valley of 23 degrees, the utility provided 30,357 megawatts of electricity on Wednesday.

TVA CEO Tom Kilgore said 63 of TVA's 65 power-generating units were used to meet demand. Unit 3 and the Colbert Fossil Plant in the Shoals area, which was down for scheduled maintenance, did not provide power, Moulton said.

The utility has about 8.8 million customers in seven states.


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