jump to navigation

“Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing” April 29, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Mountain Home News, Politics and nuclear, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The Mountain Home News was kind enough to publish this letter today. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dear editor:

We applaud the patience of the Elmore County Commission in dealing with a very controversial issue at last week’s hearing. Throughout the over four hours of testimony from both sides, the commissioners heard and saw plenty of information.

In our view, the hundreds of supporters who showed up to support jobs, clean low-cost energy, agriculture and economic growth carried the day. Testimony on our behalf was passionate, including former planning and zoning commissioners who supported our application. Farmers, large landowners, the local farm bureau, shopkeepers and average citizens all told the commission that Elmore County needs stable jobs and that rezoning our land would serve the best interests of Elmore County. We have also submitted 1,600 Idaho signatures in support of the rezone, half of them from Elmore County residents.

We know some 500 people showed up at various stages of the four-hour meeting to support us. We handed out 475 green “AEHI supporter” stickers to people and we counted about 400 of those stickers over the course of the evening (people showed up shortly after 4 p.m. to our table and were coming until after 7 p.m.). There were also many supporters who had to stand in the back and behind the boundary wall who requested stickers, but we had run out. By contrast, we counted fewer than 100 people wearing stickers opposing us throughout the entire evening. Also, fewer than 10 percent of the AEHI supporters spoke. In contrast, over a third of the opposition spoke, but many were from the same organization. Their organizations were given 10 minutes of speaking time, and then in violation of the rules individual members of the organization also spoke giving the misleading appearance of an equal number for and against.

We expect people to oppose us, but the opposition sometimes resorted to strange arguments. I’m sure some of you have been in the position where you tell someone something, they give you a blank stare and act as though they didn’t hear a word you just said. That’s how we often felt at last week’s public hearing on our rezone.

Opponents largely ignored information presented by AEHI staff and our supporters. We showed pictures of nuclear plants with farm fields and grazing cows just a stone’s throw from reactor buildings, to prove that nuclear plants are very compatible with surrounding ag land uses. We repeated that our plant would occupy just 200 of the 1,300 acres in the rezone, with most of the rest of the land devoted to farming. We made it clear our site won’t have any of those large cooling towers. We stated we’ve already spent $8 million and put 100 Idahoans to work on our effort. We made it clear that many acres of good land could be farmed but aren’t due to the high cost of water. We specified nuclear plants emit no smoke, dust, noise or odors and do not generate large amounts of traffic in operation. We made it clear we’d use a low-water design for our plant and rely on existing water rights, not impinging on existing water holders in any way. We made it clear jobs would start soon after the rezone and Conditional Use Permit approval and ramp up to several thousand during the construction phase.

We also clarified that most jobs at our plant won’t require a college degree, just specialized training that we can provide.

In response, people made some amazing claims, suggesting we could put a dump or tire-burning plant on the site. Another gentleman worried about terrorists using advanced radar weaponry to induce earthquakes to destroy reactors and cities. They insisted our plant would destroy their rural setting, even when the reality of nuclear plants shows they are good neighbors and take up little room. Some kept referring to the land as “their farmland” and that they wanted to farm it, so it should be kept as-is for their benefit (whatever happened to private property rights? And why has the land been sold several times as recently as 2007, but no one from Elmore County purchased it?). They also said farmland is disappearing; having grown up on a farm myself, this is a strong appeal to make. However, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, “nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002.” Elmore County farm statistics, obtained from the county extension office, show farms in the county also increased between 2002 and 2007, from 364 to 381. While Idaho agriculture is robust, we know farmland figures could increase substantially if our power plant is built, as many acres cannot be irrigated due to lack of low-cost power for irrigation pumps.

Most surprisingly, several opponents said the jobs won’t materialize because the plant won’t be built — then proceeded to argue against the rezone so the plant could not be built!

The Snake River Alliance is a master of these both-sides-of-the-fence arguments. On one hand, the SRA says our reactor can’t be built for a mountain of reasons — but if they really believe that, why are they spending their time opposing us? Their preoccupation with our project is unintended but welcome testimony that we are fully capable of building this plant and have an excellent shot at success, even given the current financial markets.

For someone to build a commercial nuclear plant in Idaho on their watch would pretty much verify the SRA has lost relevance and is out of touch with modern environmental thinking, even more so than the successful Areva and Idaho National Laboratory expansions demonstrate.

So, this really is about jobs: theirs (about 10) versus ours (about 5,000, with salaries much higher). It’s also stunning the Snake River Alliance would say it’s concerned about jobs and agriculture in Elmore County, when it has advocated the closure of Mountain Home Air Force Base and supported restricting water supplies to farmers to protect the Bruneau Snail. I am frankly surprised at their alliance with the Hammett-area farmers. I guess the saying “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” holds, even uniting former enemies who haven’t considered the consequences. What will these farmers do when the newly empowered SRA resumes advocacy of cutting their water rights to protect a snail or return farmland to its original “pristine condition”?

Despite all the misinformation, the people who made the loudest statement last week were our hundreds of supporters. Sadly, the SRA and opposition websites (which don’t allow comment) discount and mock the people who are eager and willing to get to work building and running a reactor.

Our opponents concern themselves with obstructing and stopping, not building and creating. No matter how this is resolved, we have made a very clear statement that Elmore County’s (and Idaho’s) baseload energy supply and economic development are pressing issues – and neither the Snake River Alliance nor their supporters have any plan to address them.

For more information on the rezone and our intentions, please go to www.alternateenergholdings.com or www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com.

Don Gillispie

President and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

Advertisements

Thanks to the hundreds who came to support jobs, agriculture and clean energy last night April 24, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Greenfield nuclear development, rural nuclear, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

To the hundreds of people who came out to support us at the Elmore County Commission hearing, thank you all so much. The commissioners have a difficult task but you helped them understand that our proposed rezone will allow Idaho to have a dependable jobs and power for farms, industry, homes and commerce. Below is a news release we have distributed about it.

Elmore County Commission to decide on nuclear plant rezone
Hundreds turn out to support proposal to rezone 1,300 acres for nuclear plant that would create thousands of jobs

April 23, 2009
For more information, contact:
Jennie Ransom, AEHI spokeswoman 208-939-9311
Martin Johncox, 208-658-9100

Hundreds of people packed a hearing room Wednesday night to show their support of a proposal to rezone 1,300 acres of land for a power plant. The Elmore County Commission will discuss and decide the rezone at a future hearing, which hasn’t yet been announced.

The commission heard four hours of testimony from than 36 supporters and 32 opponents of the rezone. Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., which is proposing to build a nuclear plant at the site, submitted an additional 240 signatures in support of the rezone Wednesday night, bringing total signatures in support to 1,600, about half of them from Elmore County.

The meeting was held at the Mountain Home Junior High School and more than 400 people showed up to an AEHI-sponsored table on the sidewalk by the school to submit resumes and letters of interest about jobs; most of these people also went to the county commission hearing to emphasize the need for economic development. AEHI is committed to hiring locally and wanted to collect worker information now due to the need to phase in workers over a number of years. Company officials have said the high number of former and current military personnel in Elmore County make it an ideal place for finding prospective employees, who must have clean backgrounds.

Supporters said the rezone is a private property and jobs issue, while opponents said the landowner shouldn’t be entitled to rezone his land. Opponents, including several farmers who live next to the property, repeatedly referred to the property as “our farm land” said they would like to farm it themselves (although they did not buy it when it was for sale recently), which couldn’t happen if it were rezoned. Gillispie pointed out the nuclear plant would have a footprint of only 200 acres, leaving most of the remaining 1,100 acres for farming.

The company’s 2007 economic study, based on other American nuclear plants, calculated AEHI’s proposed plant would grow employment in Elmore and Owyhee counties by 25 percent and generate 4,230 jobs statewide during construction, including a total annual payroll impact of $839 million. It would also generate 1,004 annual jobs statewide during operation during its 60-year lifespan, with an annual statewide payroll impact of $57 million. Average annual wages would be $80,000 for plant employees and $33,536 in industries indirectly affected. Total annual labor income impacts in Owyhee and Elmore counties during operation would be $52.3 million. Opponents also said the company’s claims about job creation were part of a “marketing plan” but did not provide any evidence to refute the company’s job analysis. Some opponents discounted the depth of the economic crisis facing the nation and state and the need for additional non-agricultural jobs in Elmore County.

Supporters noted the nuclear plant would emit no odor, smoke, dust or noise. Gillisipie’s PowerPoint showed photos of nuclear plants with cows and farm fields next to them, but opponents avoided mention of these photos. Supporter also noted the Boise area has had to turn away major employers because of lack of energy, arguing that rezoning the land would be in the county’s interest.

The Idaho Energy Complex (www.idahoenergycomplex.com) will be a large advanced nuclear reactor with low cooling water requirements located about 65 miles southeast of Boise, in Elmore County. Company officials plan to submit a Combined Operating License Application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2010. The approval process is expected to take three years and cost $80 million. Construction could begin as soon as late 2012 and finish with power generation beginning in late 2016.

Information: http://www.energyforelmore.com and http://www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com

Open letter to the people of Hammett April 15, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Greenfield nuclear development, rural nuclear, Water policy.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

We recently sent this letter to the people of Hammett, as they are the closest town to our power plant.

April 7, 2009

Dear Hammett resident,

As you know, my company, Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., is proposing to build a nuclear power plant near your town. If the Elmore County Commission approves our rezone request April 22, it will mean some changes for all of Elmore County and Hammett. There has been some concern about how a nuclear plant will affect the rural lifestyle of Elmore County so I want to explain some things to you in this letter about my company’s intentions and goals.

Nuclear plants may seem large, but they produce lots of power in a relatively small area. To generate the same amount of power, for example, a wind farm would need to cover about 100 times the area of a nuclear plant with 40-story-tall turbines and thousands of miles of access roads (and only produce electricity less than 20 percent of the time, compared to 92 for nuclear). Our plant will emit no odors, dust or noise, be well-landscaped and have a low profile, with none of those large cooling towers.

I know people are concerned about water. Any water our plant uses will have to come from existing water rights, whose holders willingly provide us with water, with fair compensation. Old-style nuclear plants consume up to 30 million of gallons a day, but our plant will use a hybrid cooling system, using heat sinks and fans to cool water. When water is scarce, a hybrid plant can throttle back its consumption greatly, spending an extra one-half to 1.5 percent of its power output to cool itself. If nuclear plants are to be possible in dry places, new approaches will have to be used.

What does a power plant mean for Hammett residents? There will be growing pains as the plant is built, but it will last 60 or more years, providing high paying job opportunities for young people to remain in the community. If you earn your living in the local economy, the plant will bring business opportunities. If your livelihood is tied to the regional or national economies, you will see expanded opportunities from low power costs. For example, Idaho farmers can’t compete without low cost electricity.

We are looking to acquire rights up to 10 million gallons a day but our hybrid cooling system will keep our net consumption of water between 100,000 and 1 million gallons a day (about as much as 140 acres of irrigated land). We are looking at the possibility of renting water – since we won’t actually have to consume much water, we can use it for cooling and return it to farmers. The warmer water could potentially extend the growing season up to two weeks each direction and give farmers another source of income. Winter greenhouses would be another beneficiary of abundant hot water.

Low-cost power built on coal and hydro sustains Idaho’s agricultural industry, but coal is on the way out and hydro is maxed out. To maintain current farming, and to bring more idle ground into production, we need low-cost power. Now only nuclear can provide that same low cost power. As a public company, Idahoans hold the majority of our stock. We are literally vested in Idaho and we want to be good neighbors.

Several people have asked me how I would feel if a nuclear power plant was proposed next to my home. If I were someone who had devoted their life to a place, living and working and raising a family there, I would understandably be concerned at the changes the plant would bring to a place I had known all my life. I might even oppose the plant if it were close enough to be prominently seen as an industrial facility or was noisy or emitted an odor, but this plant won’t do any of that. At the very least, I would want to know what the developer would do to ensure the plant would be a good neighbor, pay its fair share and give back to the community. Any large construction project will create some inconvenience on a community and any good developer will fairly compensate the people who live there, and then some.

We are proposing the following if our plant is built. These are standard things that good companies should do during construction, and to give back to the community:

  • A committee to oversee service needs. This committee would be a partnership of local officials, neighbors and plant representatives. It would examine demands that construction would place on fire, schools, housing, roads, administration, etc., and make recommendations for meeting those needs, including what compensation the plant would need to make to keep services well-funded.
  • Direct infrastructure funding. Nuclear plants typically pay for fire stations, vehicles, equipment, road improvements, etc., necessary to serve the plant and benefit the community.
  • Payment of local property taxes. This could involve paying money directly to the county to reduce the bill for all taxpayers, or focusing tax relief on the neighbors most closely affected. Building the plant will put thousands to work but will also burden residents somewhat in the short-run. These payments would be intended to compensate people for any potential disruption to their lives.
  • Local scholarships. Elmore County would receive scholarships to study sciences at colleges of their choice. We hope these promising young people would come back to Elmore County and maybe even work at our plant. But our main incentive would be to fulfill the responsibility of technology industries to help the next generation of engineers and scientists.
  • Job training. Most jobs at a nuclear plant don’t require a college degree, but they require specialized training. We propose to pay the full costs of Elmore County residents who earn training certification, or college degrees, and who commit to work at our plant.
  • A community center. County residents would need to discuss where this could be constructed. I think Hammett could be a good location if people there want it. This would be a place for neighborhood meetings, youth programs, training and local government meetings. For security reasons, access to nuclear plants is highly restricted, so this could be a place where neighbors could meet with plant representatives to discuss problems and opportunities.

America currently has 104 nuclear reactors, most of them in rural areas, where they are quiet, clean and compact. American nuclear plants bring jobs, greater prosperity and preserve the rural way of life. For example, In 2005 – after nearly 50 years of commercial nuclear power – a Bisconti poll found 83 percent living close to nuclear plants favor nuclear energy. The survey only questioned residents within 10 miles of an operating nuclear plant also found that 85 percent give the nearest nuclear power plant a “high” safety rating, and that 88 percent are confident that the company operating the power plant can do so safely.

Thank you for your time and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, 939-9311 or info@aehipower.com. We look forward to seeing you at the County Commission meeting on Wednesday, April 22, at 6 p.m. in the Mountain Home Junior High School auditorium. If any of you are interested in learning more about jobs at the plant, we will be taking letters of interest and resumes. You can also see our site at http://www.alternateenergyholdings.com or http://www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com.

Don Gillispie

CEO

Another great newspaper analysis April 2, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, rural nuclear.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Nuclear plants are being proposed in many different states and countries, so it’s hard to keep up with the latest news. Every now and then, however, a newspaper editorial or story comes my way and I just have to pass it on.

This one, from the Selma, Ala., Times-Journal, makes many good observations about Alabama Power Co.’s purchase of 5,600 acres in Dallas County for a nuclear plant. Southern Nuclear Operating Co., a sister company to Alabama Power, Mississippi Power Co. and other subsidiaries under the Southern Company umbrella, is one of 21 utility companies last year that filed for permission to build one of 34 power plants nationwide.

“Plenty of employment and benefits come with construction of power plants, according to Wylie [Pat Wylie, director for corporate communications for Alabama Power], who calls the relation between the communities and Alabama Power ‘almost symbiotic,’ meaning as the area served by the company grows, that’s a benefit to the company and the communities. The power company works closely with economic and political leaders in Dallas County and elsewhere to help bring in growth or encourage other industries to locate within those areas.”

This is very true. Nuclear power plants have a vested interest in the social and economic well-being of their surrounding towns and cities. We look forward to proposed plant having a similar relationship with Elmore County and all of Idaho.