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Hundreds of Plant Vogtle jobs could go to Canadians

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) - - The need for workers at Plant Vogtle remains high and while the utility works to secure hundreds of people, Georgia Public Service Commission's Vice Chair said that labor will more than likely come from another country. 

It's 750 electrical worker jobs to be exact.  Tim Echols told NewsChannel 6 the process is already in place to legalize Canadians and get them employed in Burke County. 

"We honestly, desperately need electricians and pipe fitters right now," Echols explained to us. "In fact, we're having to go to Canada to find them."

Back in September, NewsChannel 6 told you that Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 would move forward after all four co-owners agreed to continue construction on an already over budgeted project.  It secures 7,000 jobs and makes way for carbon free emissions, but Echols said more workers are needed. 

"So, the Department of Labor is submitting applications for 750 workers to get H2B visas and bring Canadians down from the oil sands in order to do this electrical and pipe fitting work at Vogtle," he said.

Echols added Tropical Storm Michael left a lot of electrical work to be done in addition to the jobs needed at the plant.  

NewsChannel 6 learned from Augusta Technical College President Terry Elam that the school works with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local Union 1579) to train 200 workers every year.  He said a more recent push has been to train nuclear operators to run Vogtle because they want more stability.  And he also said around 300 workers have been trained in the past eight years.

But Echols believes the election could also play a role in the plant continuing based on who voters elect.  He said a change could shift plant supporters on the PCS. 

"Regardless of how people are voting, even if they are voting for Stacey Abrams, when they get down there [the ballot] [hopefully] they will think about that plant and the survival of that plant and bring Chuck Eaton back," he said in an appeal to voters, especially River Region voters impacted the most by Plant Vogtle. "The democratic candidates are a little squishy about the plant.  They haven't really voiced their full support.  That's important for us to remember.  We're talking 7,000 jobs.  We're talking a big piece of economic development for our state."

Public Service Commission candidates joining Republican candidate Chuck Eaton on the ballot are Democratic candidate Lindy Miller and Libertarian candidate Ryan Graham. 


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