The first commercial nuclear reactor of the 21st century—and the first in 20 years—was officially declared complete Wednesday in Tennessee, the AP reports. According to CNN, the Tennessee Valley Authority started work on the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in 1973. The first reactor didn't open until 1996. The completion of the second reactor this week wraps up a 43-year project. "If you're in the nuclear business, the sight behind me is a lovely sight," TVA president Bill Johnson says. It took nine years and $4.7 billion to build the second reactor, WRCB reports. The project was over budget by billions. A nuclear engineer tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press that finishing the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant was the "most difficult, complex project I've ever worked on."
The new reactor is expected to provide electricity for at least 40 years and generates enough power for 650,000 homes. It's the 100th commercial reactor in the country. US Sen. Lamar Alexander says the reactor "will provide cheap, carbon-free, and reliable electricity." Alexander wants another 100 nuclear reactors in the US. But TVA, which now has seven nuclear reactors, says it has no plans to build more after the completion of Watts Bar. (Read more nuclear power plant stories.)