Hundreds and hundreds more people could be hired at Plant Vogtle within the next year and a half, according to Michael McCracken, a Southern Nuclear communications coordinator.
On Thursday, during a Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness breakfast forum in Aiken, McCracken discussed the future of both nuclear energy and Vogtle, including the ongoing construction of nuclear units 3 and 4.
"In fact, the last thing I heard … we were expecting to hire another 1,500 craft workers in the next year and a half," McCracken said. "Another 1,500. Electricians and pipefitters, that’s what they’re saying."
The additional jobs are needed to sustain the workload, according to McCracken.
"I mean, the largest components are there, they’re in, you know, they’re ready to be put in. … We are pulling cables, right, and that takes a lot of people and a lot of connecting of equipment and things like that," he said. "So there’s a lot of the, you know, hands-on commodity-type work that is going to require a lot of people."
The Vogtle plant is right across the river from Aiken – it's situated southeast of Augusta.
The electric generating plant is co-owned, and Southern Nuclear handles operations.
Two nuclear facilities at Vogtle are, and have been, up and running. Another pair is currently being built. Approximately 900 people oversee the existing plant operations.
Unit 3 is expected to be operational come November 2021, and Unit 4 is expected to be operational come 2022, according to McCracken.
Vogtle's expansion, though, has come under a wave of political and financial pressure, which McCracken acknowledged.
Twenty Georgia lawmakers recently urged Vogtle's co-owners to cap costs in the face of an over-budget $27 billion price tag, a Jacksonville utility has attempted to back out of its Vogtle energy deal, and, as McCracken said Thursday, the project timeline has been pushed back.
"A couple years ago it was 2019, 2020," he said.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued construction and operating licenses for the tandem project in 2012.