Burke County residents react to Plant Vogtle expansion

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
Plant Vogtle

Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Burke County, Georgia. (File / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Feb.12, 2012

BURKE CTY., Ga -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved an expansion at Plant Vogtle that's expected to bring thousands of jobs and even more money to an area that's been stagnant for years.

With an unemployment rate almost 2 percent higher than the national average, people who live in Burke County are excited for the expansion, which was approved Thursday.

"Whats going to happen is the infrastructure that's around town here is going to create local business here and then they're going to be able to employ local people in those businesses," said Roy Black, owner of Mobley's Cafeteria in Waynesboro.

Black is expecting a big increase in business at the cafeteria and has even changed his business hours to accommodate the expected increase.

"I'm looking for at least a 25 to 30 percent increase in business and that's going to come from not only people working at Vogtle but their families who move here also," Black said.

And the real estate business is already feeling the effects of those moving to town, said Cathy Hawkins, who owns Hawkins and Whitaker Real Estate in Waynesboro

"The end of January to the first of February we've seen more of an increase because of the anticipation of it happening," Hawkins said.

The area saw a similar boom back in the 1970's when the first two reactors were built. Paul Bowers is the CEO of Georgia Power and said that boom is a good indication of the economic impact this expansion will have on the area.

"A lot of people want to reflect back to when the original plant, it gave a boost to Burke County. It gave a boost to Augusta and now you have this recurrence and it's going to be an overall boost to the entire region," Powers said.

Construction on reactors 3 and 4 has already started and should be completed in the next few years.

Black and Hawkins both said they don't see any possible negative impacts from the expansion.

"It's all positive. This entire community is behind this operation at Plant Vogtle. We are looking forward to it," Black said.

They are hoping to finish construction on the first new reactor by 2016.

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