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Cooling towers for Unit 1, right, and Unit 2, left, are shown at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, Tenn., in this April 29, 2015 photo.

The Tennessee Valley Authority said Monday it has begun a refueling at its Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 1 for scheduled refueling and maintenance outage after the reactor generated more than 12.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over the past 18 months.

TVA is bringing in an extra 1,000 temporary TVA and contract workers to supplement Watts Bar's regular staff during the outage. More than 10,600 work activities are planned, including loading new fuel assemblies, performing inspections of reactor components, maintenance of plant equipment and installing unit enhancements.

"Our refueling outage allows us to set the unit up for the next cycle of reliable, low-cost and carbon-free nuclear power to benefit the families and industries of the Tennessee Valley," said Kevin Walsh, Watts Bar site vice president. "The Watts Bar team will be completing a large volume of work while the unit is off-line so we can continue to safely and reliably produce electricity for those who count on us every day."

The refueling of Unit 1 will be done while TVA works to finish construction and equipment testing for the start up of the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar, which is scheduled by the end of 2015.

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