The Browns Ferry Unit 1 was the first nuclear plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and was the largest in the country when it started up in 1974. All three units at Browns Ferry shut down in 1985 but the other units reopened in the 1990s.
Bush was greeted enthusiastically in rural Alabama. People lined the route, many of them waving U.S. flags or carrying homemade signs that read "Welcome President Bush."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters that Bush believes nuclear power needs subsidies because of the long period when the country abandoned the technology. Other countries, especially in Europe, continued to build nuclear plants.
"We did not progress that way in the States and we are having to play a little bit of catch up right now in order to get to a world where we could use nuclear power more," she said.
Bush was scheduled to attend a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., before returning to Washington.