Photo courtesy ORNL
TVA relieved Bechtel from construction management at Watts Bar nuclear plant, after construction schedule slipped from 2012 to 2013 completion date.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is taking over the management of the construction of the second unit at the Watts Bar nuclear plant after the construction schedule slipped under the current contractor, the federal power producer said Wednesday.

TVA renegotiated its engineering, procurement and construction contract with Bechtel Power, Terry Johnson, a TVA spokesman, said. TVA will take over as project manager while Bechtel retains the technical portion of the contract, he said.

“Fundamentally, we established a level of productivity and it isn’t being met,” Johnson said.

The $2.5 billion, 1,180-MW Watts Bar 2 initially was scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012. It now is scheduled to be completed in 2013, but TVA has not established a specific date, Johnson said.

“Changes were made to the agreement to better align responsibilities. Bechtel is still committed to successfully delivering Watts Bar 2,” Michelle Michael, a Bechtel spokeswoman, said.

Watts Bar is located on the Tennessee River between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

TVA is reevaluating the pressurized water reactor project’s cost and schedule, Johnson said. It also is reviewing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing schedule, he said. There is some uncertainty surrounding that schedule, he said. The NRC said in July it expected to issue the license in November or December.

“The company is taking a deliberate approach in the review and development of the overall construction and licensing schedule,” Mike Skaggs, TVA’s senior vice president of nuclear generation development and construction, said in a statement.

The construction force at Watts Bar will be reduced by 800 during the review, Johnson said. About 600 craft workers and 200 support staff mostly employed by Bechtel and Day & Zimmermann will be laid off. Having fewer workers on the project will help TVA and its contractors better manage the work to complete the construction, start-up testing and the transition to commercial operations while controlling costs, TVA said. Some of the workers could be called back once the review is completed, Johnson said.

Watts Bar Unit 2 was approximately 80% completed when construction stopped in 1988 because a reduction in the expected growth of demand.