The Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors has approved continuing with construction of Watts Bar 2, despite the estimated cost of completion almost doubling.

It has also approved a 10-year, $298 million contract for the construction of a dry cask storage facility for used nuclear fuel at Watts Bar, and additional dry storage capacity at Sequoyah and Browns Ferry.

TVA announced revised cost estimates for the completion of Watts Bar 2 in early April, after a seven-month, top-to-bottom analysis of the construction project. It estimated the total cost would be in the range of $4.0-$4.5 billion (most likely around $4.2 billion), which is $1.5-$2.0 billion higher than initially estimated. The expected completion date is between September and December 2015.

“The original estimates in 2007 were incomplete and the execution was inadequate,” TVA Chairman William B. Sansom admitted in a statement. However, he went on to praise the actions of CEO Tom Kilgore and his leadership team, particularly Mike Skaggs, who in August 2011 became the leader for nuclear construction. The team went to work to understand what happened, where the process broke down and how to fix it, he said.

Improvements in how the site is managed and work is done are already underway, according to TVA, which maintains that Watts Bar unit 2 is expected to be amongst the best operating and most economical nuclear generating facilities of the 21st century.

TVA also plans to complete Bellefonte unit 1; but work will not start until fuel is loaded into Watts Bar 2; the board decided last August.

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