The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission could issue an early site permit for two new reactors at Southern Co.'s (SO) Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia within two weeks after a decision by an NRC board earlier this week.

A decision issued on Monday by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board found that the NRC staff's review of safety and environmental issues related to Southern's proposal was sufficient to allow the commission to issue an early site permit for the project. The permit would allow Southern to begin preliminary construction work at the site.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board's decision means the permit will be issued "fairly soon - probably within a couple of weeks," NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said.

The Vogtle project would be the fourth to receive an early site permit from the NRC. Southern filed its permit application in 2006. The company has also filed for a combined operating license to build and operate the 1,100-megawatt reactors, which the company expects to enter service in 2016 and 2017.

The Vogtle proposal is on a short list of nuclear projects that the Department of Energy is considering for loan guarantees.

-By Christine Buurma, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2143;