The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will cut its nuclear power staff to the lowest numbers in a half century, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The federal utility has offered the 3,500 in its nuclear unit incentives to quit or retire within the next three months, in an effort to meet 2017 budget goals.
At its peak in 1981, TVA employed 51,709 workers according to the Times Free Press. The utility has not announced how many jobs it plans to cut, but hopes to have completed the reduction by the last day of its fiscal year on September 30.
The announcement comes as TVA conducts final tests in preparation to begin operation at its Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power plant in Spring City, Tennessee. Currently, the utility has no plans to build additional nuclear facilities and is eliminating most of its construction and design staff in an effort to focus on operations at its existing nuclear power facilities.
"We continually evaluate our business to determine the right way to keep our costs down while operating our units safely and efficiently," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson told the Times Free Press. "It's an ongoing assessment of all of our business units to help meet our congressional mandate to keep our rates as low as possible."
All 3,500 of TVA's nuclear power employees who have at least one year of experience are eligible to apply for the early retirement incentives in July.