jump to navigation

Snake River Alliance does Idaho no favors June 3, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, anti-renewable energy, economic benefits, Greenfield nuclear development, Mountain Home News, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
trackback

[We submitted this opinion to the Mountain Home news last month but space constraints kept it from being published.]

Democracy gives people a lot of latitude in how to get something done, or to stop it from being done. The events over the last few weeks have been really useful in showing how we and the Snake River Alliance differ on those counts. Heat doesn’t substitute for light and even a group as prickly as the Snake River Alliance should know that a civil tone will help public discussion of important issues like energy.

Our efforts to prepare for the April 20 rezone hearing were aboveboard and successful. We launched a public information campaign to let people know about our table to collect resumes and letters of interest and around 500 showed up and wore stickers supporting AEHI. I spoke at clubs, groups, associations, business and anywhere else people would have me, and not all of these venues were friendly.

We collected 1,600 signatures through much hard work going door-to-door, going to food lines, going to workplaces, going to places the SRA wouldn’t bother going. We produced an informational video and mailed it to each household in Elmore County. We sent a letter to every resident of Hammett to address their specific concerns. We launched a traditional advertising campaign and used the new tools of social media to get the word out.

In contrast, the Snake River Alliance prepared for the rezone hearing with bizarre and unethical gimmicks. A week or so before the hearing, the SRA complained to the Glenns Ferry Police Department that I shoved SRA employee Liz Woodruff at a March 10 Glenns Ferry City Council meeting – in a room full of the public, city officials and police officers, no less! The authorities did their duty and, after interviewing me and other people, found the accusation without merit. Clearly, the SRA was fishing for an “October surprise” a week before the rezone hearing, hoping to smear my reputation and throw the meeting into disarray.

These shenanigans have no place in public policy. It probably didn’t help the SRA that Mrs. Woodruff on March 24 publicly apologized to the Glenns Ferry City Council for her childish behavior at that March 10 council meeting, where she sought to disrupt my presentation.

All this is relevant because it speaks to the SRA’s involvement in the public process. As hard as they try to keep a veneer of civility, they openly and behind-the-scenes do what they can do disrupt the local process. Apparently, they were able to restrain themselves more or less for the rezone hearing, but they and their supporters formed “groups” to get more speaking time. Then, individual members of the “groups” spoke, violating the principle the county established for recognizing groups .

Clearly, the SRA does best when surrounded by supporters and friends, but their thin-skinned nature leads them to do some strange things. For example, sometimes the SRA seems immune to common sense. To emphasize that nuclear plants are a good fit with rural areas, we showed pictures of cows grazing a stone’s throw from nuclear plants and Andrea Shipley’s response was to say “the property at issue is not grazed by cows” (actually, cows graze the only adjacent private land). As the SRA well knows, our plant would take up around 200 acres, with the remainder of the 1,300 acre parcel to remain farmland.

To say our plant would “upend surrounding ag uses” is preposterous. For the real story on how our plant would affect the area, see my open letter to the citizens of Hammett at http://www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com. There are plenty of photos of nuclear plants surrounded by hayfields, wildlife habitat, estuaries and near small towns (yes, we’re well aware there are no estuaries in Elmore County).

In the face of our campaign, the SRA says the jobs will never materialize – but the SRA is working as hard as it can to stop the jobs from ever materializing. We’ve already put 100 Idahoans to work and as long as investors continue to fund us, that’s their concern, not the SRA’s. They say we haven’t finalized enough details about our plant, but you know if we had every detail plotted out they’d complain we were being presumptuous. At this stage, we are simply seeking to rezone the land, yet they chide us for not having each and every aspect of our plant finalized.

Speaking of our business, Ms. Shipley breathlessly states the obvious in quoting our SEC report, which says “AEHI has limited funds and such funds will not be adequate to carry out the business plan without borrowing significant funds. The ultimate success of AEHI may depend upon its ability to raise additional capital … and it could fail.” OK, so we openly admit don’t have enough money to build a nuclear reactor and need more investment to build it. So? Utilities, developers, companies and anyone else building anything must seek investment capital as well.

Ms. Shipley is either uneducated about start-up public companies, or she is seeking to misrepresent our funding picture. We are the only publicly owned company in the nation seeking to build an independent nuclear power plant; traditional utilities, for whatever reasons, haven’t constructed enough power plants and we are stepping up to meet the demand. Like any other start-up, we seek investment for what we propose. If we get it, we may succeed, and if we don’t, we fail. Anyone who has run a business, or who is not terribly out-of-touch with business, understands that.

The Snake River Alliance’s contempt for working people is evident in its own site, as well as those of supporters. Among the drawbacks of our plant, according to the SRA’s Jan. 9 news release, would be “thousands of construction workers” in Elmore County (http://tinyurl.com/qxgnm9). I guess if someone has a problem with construction workers, that would be a concern, but to people who are willing to work hard and get something built, it’s an insult. Or, this gem from http://tinyurl.com/p43rar, refers this way to people who came to our table: “To what degree will these curbside applicants feel like darned fools?”

If this is the best the Snake River Alliance can offer, it has grossly underestimated our tenacity, the depth of our support and the necessity of our enterprise.

Ms. Shipley claimed I am “obsessed with counting stickers” but that is the closest she comes to acknowledging the truth: People at the meeting were overwhelmingly supportive of the rezone and the SRA’s vaunted community organizing efforts didn’t produce much in that regard. The best Ms. Shipley can do is to discount our efforts to create jobs and say the jobs won’t come soon enough, or at all, or they won’t be for Elmore residents – while simultaneously doing all she can to stop the jobs from ever coming. Tactically, the SRA was out-hustled, but that in itself means nothing as the ultimate measure of success lies with the Elmore County Commission.

Most valuable are the resumes of hundreds of highly qualified, hardworking Idahoans we collected and hope to call on as soon as we can. They and thousands of other supporters hope we prevail over the SRA and its newfound allies.

Anti-nukes use another two-faced approach when they say nuclear power shouldn’t be pursued because we have no place to store or reprocess the waste, but then they work against storage and reprocessing solutions. It’s worth pointing out Areva is planning for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the US (http://tinyurl.com/pwfblo). The firm recently shared with bloggers its conceptual thinking about a 800 ton/year plant which it says is the answer to apparent end of the Yucca Mountain repository project.

Given the traditional antagonism between environmental groups like the SRA and agriculture, it is not surprising Ms. Shipley is out of touch with ag issues. News alert for Ms. Shipley: Farming in Idaho is largely constrained by the high cost of water, because pumping that water is becoming increasingly expensive. Irrigators currently pay close to 4 cents per kilowatt hour, but Idaho Power is asking for an 11.1 percent increase in that rate. Many farmers spend thousands of dollars a month on power costs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, it costs 1.8 cents to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity with nuclear power, and that power is produced more than 90 percent of the time (http://tinyurl.com/2pgc8k).

This kind of reliable low-cost power is exactly what high-lift irrigators and other farmers need to stay economically competitive. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind costs around 5 cents per kilowatt hour (http://tinyurl.com/kyg8u) with federal subsidies – when it’s blowing, which is around 20 percent of the time on average. Ms. Shipley should know business can’t operate under those power terms; we only make it work by importing half our energy for out-of-state coal plants.

It strains belief that Ms. Shipley would claim “Idaho is not out of power … Idaho has ample electricity resources.” Perhaps she should tell that laughable claim to the two major employers who bypassed southern Idaho in 2007 because Idaho Power couldn’t provide electricity! Surely, she is just as disappointed as the rest of us about the loss of those jobs.

The fact that Idaho imports half its energy is proof enough that we need to develop our own dispatchable baseload resources in-state. It’s no secret that Idaho Power hasn’t developed a base-load power plant in Idaho in at least 30 years, choosing instead buying shares in out-of-state coal plants. I really can’t blame them; after getting a taste of the difficulty in developing a power plant, I can see why Idaho Power has evidently given up on new baseload power in Idaho.

That brings me to my next point, which is that energy developers of all kinds are facing a harder time getting anything built, and no advocacy groups are stepping forward to support them. As you read this, dozens of rural landowners want to “curb enthusiasm for” and ultimately kill plans to plant wind turbines and string a green-field power line segment across the northern Laramie Range in Wyoming (http://tinyurl.com/polydc). The Northern Laramie Range Alliance is fighting wind energy, which the Snake River Alliance points to as the future of energy generation.

Something tells me the Snake River Alliance and its allies won’t be showing up to help these wind power developers – or anyone who’s trying to build a power plant.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Maureen Jenner - December 18, 2009

This article on the Snake River Alliance is ridiculous and totally wrong. It doesn’t even state the author’s name so it shouldn’t be printed. The Snake River alliance is helping develop all kinds of sustainable energy except nuclear. The Snake River Alliance is working hard in conjunction with Idaho Power to develop safe resources.

cleanidahoenergy - December 18, 2009

Maureen, thanks for taking the time to comment. Everything in the article is a matter of public record and can be verified. Regarding the authorship, please see the “About” page and you will see AEHI CEO Don Gillispie is the author of this blog. To date, we have not seen any SRA representative speak in favor of any specific power development; they oppose specific developments and claim to work for policy changes to promote their favored sources. But when it comes to actually showing up at a public meeting to help renewables developers with a specific project, it just doesn’t happen as far as we know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: