ATLANTA — Construction is set to begin on the nation’s first two new nuclear units in 30 years at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle, near Waynesboro, Ga., approximately 26 miles southeast of Augusta. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved issuance of the Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4, the first such license ever approved for a U.S. nuclear plant. Receipt of the COL signifies that full construction can begin. Georgia Power expects Unit 3 to begin operating in 2016 and Unit 4 in 2017.

“Our communities and our country will benefit from this more than $14 billion investment, representing 4,000 to 5,000 jobs onsite during peak construction, and in the process creating over 25,000 direct and indirect jobs by this project alone,” said Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers.

The approval of the Vogtle COL was a joint effort with NuStart Energy Development, a partnership of 10 power companies created in 2004 to obtain a COL using the new streamlined licensing process and complete the design engineering for the selected reactor technologies. In 2009, NuStart named Vogtle the reference plant for the Westinghouse AP1000 technology, which according to the NRC, is a 1,100-megawatt electric pressurized-water reactor that includes passive safety features that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for electricity or human intervention.

Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is overseeing construction and will operate the two new AP1000 units for Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities. Southern Nuclear originally submitted its COL application on March 28, 2008.