GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has landed a contract from the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide outage services for the authority’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant near Decatur, Alabama, officials announced Thursday.
The contract, valued at more than $70 million, calls for New Hanover County-based GE Hitachi to provide a full portfolio of outage and inspection services to the three GE boiling water reactors at the Browns Ferry site, according to a news release. Outage services are “scheduled, rigorously planned” maintenance events, GE Hitachi spokesman Jonathan Allen said Thursday. The work at Browns Ferry will involve removal and replacement of part of the reactor fuel any other maintenance that the reactor requires, he added.
The agreement runs through 2020 and includes three outages at each reactor, for a total of nine outages. Typically, a boiling water reactor undergoes a planned outage every 18 months, Allen said, although sometimes a reactor can go as long as 24 months between outages.
“Usually outages are scheduled in the spring and fall when energy demands are lower,” he said.
At full capacity, Browns Ferry’s three GE boiling water reactors generate a combined 3,300 megawatts – enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 2 million homes – which is 10 percent of Tennessee Valley Authority’s total generation capacity, the release stated.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, created in 1933, is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven Southeastern states, its website states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity.
One significant aspect of GE Hitachi's winning the contract, according to Allen, is that the Browns Ferry outage work was previously being done by a competitor.
Vying for contracts previously held by competitors is one way in which GE Hitachi is trying to increase its market share, which currently is about 80 percent for work on GE equipment, according to GE Hitachi spokesman Christopher White. The company is also looking to expand its outage services to non-GE boiling water reactors and to add services to pressurized water reactors
. The company’s first pressurized water reactor outage services were completed earlier this fall, Allen said.