August/September 2009

My job rocks

TVA employees are on the job 24/7, keeping the lights on, running the river system, managing TVA lands and supporting TVA’s operations. In this column, you’ll hear from TVA employees who can say, “My job rocks!”

Allyson Woody

Unit Operator, Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant


Unit Operator Allyson Woody works in the control room at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. “I love this job because it’s still a learning experience for me.”

Allyson Woody, 37, a Unit Operator at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, has worked at TVA for 17 years. She grew up in Killen, Ala., in a Browns Ferry family. Her father, Donnie O’Kelley; her stepmother, Kathy O’Kelley; her mother, Diane Davis; and her stepfather, Larry Davis, all worked at the plant.

“I love this job because it’s still a learning experience for me,” Woody says. “You never know what you’re going to come in to. The units are changing as equipment upgrades are being implemented. The guys who’ve been here for years, they’re still learning.”

After graduating from Brooks High School in Killen, Woody got her associate degree in electronics from Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Ala.

She applied at Browns Ferry for an instrument-maintenance job, then started the Nuclear Student Generating Plant Operator class in May 1992. “I did a lot of studying,” she says. “In fact, I had never studied more, not in high school or at Calhoun. But I really enjoyed learning everything.”

Woody finished the class in September 1993 and became an assistant unit operator. “AUOs monitor equipment, perform plant walk downs and coordinate operating plant equipment with the control room operator,” she says. “They are essentially the eyes, ears and hands of the control room operator.”

Woody worked as an assistant unit operator until June 2007, when she entered the Operator License Training Program. She was the only female in the class of 13 trainees. There are five female reactor operators out of 55 at Browns Ferry.

“In spite of my accomplishments up to that point, I was still a little nervous at the prospect of becoming a reactor operator because I had been an AUO long enough to gain an appreciation for the work the ROs perform,” says Woody. “I thought, ‘How am I going to learn all this?’ But, my passion for learning carried me through.”

She completed her reactor operator training and got her license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in January 2009. “Reactor, or unit, operators work from the control room,” she says. “We also perform walk downs of our control room monitoring equipment, respond to alarms, control and maintain reactor power, and coordinate work with the AUOs. I really enjoy the different surveillances that we do.”

Woody and her husband, Casey, an auto body shop owner, have three sons – 7, 5 and 2 years old.