Already, more than 1,750 workers are in Burke County performing preliminary tasks that include welding, pipe fitting, concrete work and operating heavy equipment.
The federal license that will gradually push the workforce to a peak of about 3,500 could be issued as early as December or January, according to Southern Co. officials.
“We still expect to have it around the end of the year,” said Todd Terrell, the company’s nuclear development communication director.
Hiring and training activities have been under way for several years, but activity will remain high throughout the construction process, he said.
The new reactors are scheduled to go online in 2016 and 2017, and would be the first new nuclear power reactors to be completed in the U.S. in almost three decades.
Much of the labor needed for the work will come from local communities, he said. “At least 50 percent live within 50 miles, and we are trying to keep half up to the full labor force filled with local workers.”
There are 17 separate unions associated with the project and its labor force, in addition to a primary contractor, The Shaw Group, which will manage most of the construction work and support activities. Shaw will use a combination of direct hires, subcontractors and union labor to complete the project.
The units will also create about 800 permanent jobs, in addition to a similar number of workers already at work operating the existing Vogtle units.
The Vogtle expansion might be the first new reactor project to be completed, but it is not the only one. The SCANA corporation is planning a similar expansion to its V.C. Summer nuclear plant near Jenkinsville, S.C., and is also awaiting a decision on its request for a combined operating license.