The first unit of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project began transmitting electricity into the grid on Tuesday, bringing to fruition efforts that started three decades ago.

The nuclear power plant has been put up with the technology and reactor supplied by Russia’s Atomstroyexport. Its going on stream on Tuesday turned out to be a happy augury as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in Russia negotiating, among other deals, a contract for the supply of two more nuclear reactors.

The ‘synchronisation to the grid’ happened at 2-45 a.m. and the 1,000-MW plant was operating at a capacity of 160 MW. A press release from Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) said that the capacity of the unit would be gradually raised in stages to 1,000 MW.

On July 13, 12 years after the construction of the plant began, Unit I of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project attained criticality. The commissioning of the plant takes the total nuclear power capacity in the country to 5,780 MW. Kudankulam-1 is the 20{+t}{+h} nuclear power plant owned and operated by public sector NPCIL.

Tamil Nadu will be the biggest beneficiary. The State is entitled to 462 MW of power from each of the two units (the second unit, also of 1,000 MW capacity, is expected to be commissioned in about six months). Tamil Nadu’s generation and distribution company, Tangedco, will buy Kudankulam power at around Rs 3 a kWhr.