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Rhetorical meltdown February 21, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, anti-renewable energy, approval process, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, Idaho leadership, Mountain Home News, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, President Obama, Snake River Alliance, Steven Chu.
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It’s been a rough few months for the Snake River Alliance, and it shows in the shrill and over-the-top rhetoric of their news releases. I suppose it’s for the best they don’t blog and have removed from their Web site the ability for public comment.

Among the setbacks to the SRA: a pro-nuclear president and energy secretary are now in office; the SRA had to admit they were clueless when they stooped to calling us criminals; the state of Idaho has reshuffled its renewable energy priorities to better conform to reality; AREVA is moving forward with a uranium processing facility in Idaho; and the SRA has bailed on at least one public hearing to support embattled wind farm developers.

Apparently, the SRA is engaging in some fundraising by continuing its attempts to vilify us. Their latest news release, regarding our status as a fully reporting company before the SEC, is laughable to anyone with an understanding of business.

To clear up the SRA’s untruths:

• We were “four months late” filing our registration statements (on Feb. 19, we reported the SEC has accepted our registration statement, qualifying us to be a fully reporting company, conduct audits and file required financial reports for current and potential investors). This is nonsense. You can’t be late on a registration statement because there is no requirement to be fully reporting. It is a choice that public companies make to be more open.

• We didn’t disclose any lawsuits in filing our registration statement (at the time, we had a pending lawsuit against the SRA for defamation). You are only required to disclose lawsuits against your company, not lawsuits you have filed against others. Anyone who has been through this process knows that.

I failed to appear at the Legislature when invited. Very wrong. I have been invited twice to appear before an interim committee on energy (not the Legislature) and appeared both times. I testified once and the second time, the meeting ran an hour over and I had to leave to another meeting; I later emailed my remarks to the committee. The SRA knows this but conveniently forgets to mention it.

We “lost” the defamation lawsuit. After Andrea Shipley admitted she had no factual basis for calling us “scammers,” we did not object to their motion to dismiss the suit. Shipley’s critiques “generally represent the highly subjective opinions of the [speaker] rather than assertions of verifiable, objective fact,” according to the SRA court filing. Her admission that she had no factual basis for her statements is a retraction and that pleases us.

• We were late in paying a $50,000 bill to Owyhee County. We had originally proposed to build our plant in Owyhee County and the filing fee was $1,000 and we offered to pay $50,000 because of the exceptional nature of our application. We asked Owyhee County for a written bill, which we need for accountability purposes. The Mountain Home News on Oct. 8 quoted Commissioner Dick Freund: “Once notified in writing, they paid up almost immediately.”

We invite the SRA to be as open as we are and post a link to their financial statements – heck, maybe even start blogging, allow public comment and join the rest of us. The SRA’s distortions of facts and fulminations don’t substitute for a discussion of Idaho’s or America’s energy future.

Hope in a bad economy February 13, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, Mountain Home News, Politics and nuclear, rural nuclear.
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The news in last week’s Mountain Home News was unsettling. Unemployment in the county has reached 7 percent in Elmore County – not a devastating figure, but high for a place with a normally robust economy, and slightly ahead of the state figure of 6.6 percent. Loss of jobs at Micron, the closing of a potato processing plant, a poor Christmas season and fewer car sales are behind much of the job unemployment.

According to the story, people are taking lower-paying jobs to get through but “… in general, if you’re looking for high-paying jobs, you’re not going to find it in Elmore County. You’re probably going to have to move. There just aren’t any jobs like that here,” said Albert Clement, who runs the local Idaho Department of Labor office. Unemployment benefits are essential, Clement said, because “this is outside money coming and outside money tends to roll over several times” before it leaves the local economy.

The bright spots in the economy are construction at the air base, the Marathon Cheese factory and Wal-Mart.

These are uncertain times for the state and national economies. With a new administration, Mountain Home Air Force Base may once again be at risk of shrinkage or closure. At a time like this, it is worth revisiting our 2007 economic study by Johnson Gardner of Portland, Ore.

Nuclear plants generate energy that is second only to hydro in low cost, because uranium is a cheap and potent fuel, but nuclear plants are capital intensive. That’s good news for communities that develop nuclear plants, as they will enjoy plentiful construction jobs for several years and later reap the benefits of jobs that pay an average of $80,000 a year. Our reactor will remain a mainstay of Idaho’s economy – you can be sure we won’t offshore to Asia. We will be here to stay.

Our 2007 economic study found our plant will (amounts are in 2006 dollars):

·             Create a total commercial impact of $2.6 billion during construction – a boost of nearly 6 percent to the State’s economy.

·             Generate 4,230 jobs statewide during construction, including a total annual payroll impact of $839 million – nearly 2 percent of the payroll in Idaho.

·             Generate ripple economic effects of $237 million during construction in Ada, Canyon, and Bonneville counties.

·             Create a total commercial impact of $155 million a year during operation.

·             Generate 1,004 annual jobs statewide during operation (estimated 60 years or more) with an annual statewide payroll impact of $57 million.

·             Pay average annual wages of $80,000 to plant employees (267 percent of Idaho average) and pay would be $33,536 (112 percent of Idaho average) in industries indirectly affected.

·             Produce annual state tax revenues of $74 million during operation.

·             Grow employment in Elmore and Owyhee counties by 25 percent.

·             Produce total annual labor income impacts in Owyhee and Elmore counties of $52.3 million during operation.

·             Permanent IEC operation would single-handedly boost State General Fund revenues by 3.3 percent annually.

The report estimated there are enough Idaho workers to fill most of the construction jobs. Whenever possible, we will use workers, engineers, consultants and businesses from Owyhee County, Idaho and the Northwest region.

Oddly, while our opponents criticize us for possibly selling power out of state (as wind farms and geothermal plants already do), the other side of the coin is that our plant will greatly benefit Elmore County’s economy because it will, in fact, bring in money from out of state!

Even with no new plants under construction, the development process is putting people to work. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, “nuclear energy is one of the few bright spots in the US economy – expanding rather than contracting.”

The NEI report says the prospect of new plant construction in has already stimulated considerable investment and job creation among companies that supply the nuclear industry: “over the last several years, the nuclear industry has invested over $4 billion in new nuclear plant development, and plans to invest approximately $8 billion in the next several years to be in a position to start construction in 2011-2012.”

In the course of this, NEI said, “private investment in new nuclear power plants has created an estimated 14,000-15,000 jobs.” The number of new jobs “will expand dramatically after 2011 when the first wave of these new nuclear projects starts construction.”