Watts Bar Nuclear Plant

TVA’s Watts Bar has the distinction of having the last nuclear plant to come online in the 20th Century and will be the first to come online in the 21st Century. Watts Bar Unit 1 began operation in 1996 and Unit 2 is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2016.

The plant is located on 1,700 acres on the northern end of the Chickamauga Reservoir near Spring City, in eastern Tennessee. Each unit produces about 1,100 megawatts of electricity—enough to service 650,000 homes—without creating any carbon emissions.

How Watts Bar Works


Watts Bar Facts

  • Unit 1 began commercial operation in May 1996.
  • Unit 1 is licensed for operation through 2035.
  • Unit 2 is scheduled for commercial operation in 2016. Read more about completion of Watts Bar Unit 2.
  • Each unit can produce 1,150 megawatts of continuous electricity.
  • Combined, this is enough to supply about 1.3 million homes daily.
  • The plant supports approximately 1,000 full-time jobs.
  • Watts Bar employees support the surrounding community with five Partners in Education schools, the Watts Bar Community Service Group and community/educational outreach.
  • Watts Bar employees give back to the community through the Chattanooga Area Combined Federal Campaign.  

History of Watts Bar

The area surrounding Watts Bar was inhabited by the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw Native American tribes during the late 18th century. There are two competing theories as to Watts Bar’s namesake. The first comes from some of the descendants of Meigs County’s original settlers. They claim that the area was named from a Native American named Wattsi and that the Watts Creek was formerly known as Wattsi Creek.

The second theory comes from historical records showing that the territory surrounding Watts Bar during the latter part of the 18th century belonged to John Watts, a Choctaw chief, famous for his ability as a warrior and leader. No direct connection has been found linking his name with Watts Bar, leaving this just a theory.

Watts Bar once held the distinction of being the only location in the United States to generate electricity using 1. hydroelectric, 2. fossil (retired) and 3. nuclear technology.