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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Valley Authority says it has signed an agreement with Babcock & Wilcox to build and test the nation's first small modular nuclear reactor.

TVA hopes to build the unit at its Clinch River Site in Oak Ridge and to eventually add three more such reactors there.

The reactors would produce about 20 percent of the electricity generated by standard light-water reactors now in use. Advantages would be more of the manufacturing being done in factories, reducing construction time, and more standardization of reactors.

The agreement signed Feb. 7 formalizes the process under which a license application will eventually be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

TVA provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.

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