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Opinion roundup July 17, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, Mountain Home News, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance, Water policy, Wind energy.
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While our rezone application moves through the process at Elmore County, I thought I would post some letters to the editor and columns that have appeared lately.

Idaho Statesman, July 16, 2009
Enough delays: Approve Elmore County plant

During an Elmore County commissioners’ meeting, supporters of the nuclear power plant outnumbered opponents 5-to-1 and 1,600 petition signatures were submitted in support. Yet, after a year of hearings, the answer from commissioners was the comprehensive plan is outdated and go back to square one. Those opposing are few: a discounted far-left environmental group and a handful of Hammett farmers who support nuclear power but want it constructed in a different location. From the hearings I have attended, radio debates I’ve listened to, and discussions with both farmers and Hammett residents, their responses are loud and clear: the majority of Idahoans are in favor of the power plant and they recognize that this is our big chance to attract large companies who bring stable jobs but need more than what Idaho Power can provide them with. It’s what Idaho has been looking for and it’s what Idaho desperately needs to lead the Northwest and the United States in clean power. My plea to the commissioners is to please stop stalling by appeasing a few and start representing the majority voice. Let us help ourselves to have a brighter future by approving this power plant.

KEVIN F. AMAR, Meridian

Mountain Home News, July 15, 2009
If you want growth, nuclear power plant is viable option

Dear editor:
As I sit here on Saturday morning, June 20, 2009, I look outside my window and see Idaho’s energy future. At least the future that many near-sighted folks want us to put all our faith and trust. It is completely still with nary a whisper of wind to turn even the most efficient wind turbine and so overcast that solar power couldn’t power up an LED bulb.

Naive, I am not. I know this is not the norm for Elmore County; but to set so much reliance on wind, water and solar cannot be our standard for the future of energy for the Pacific Northwest, Western United States, or even the United States as a whole

We cannot afford any more coal powered plants — that is a given. We must invest in other means of powering our society with the electrical demands we have established. Whether for our homes, computers, cell phones, mobile phones, or even the increased future of hybrid or solely electric vehicles — we need electricity! That fact will not go away lest we make the conscious decision to revert back to the 1800s. We can do that, but mind you, it will make it very difficult to continue advances (or even sustain our current abilities) in medicine or just how we live from day to day. If we minimize production, whatever electricity we might have given to us would go first to the established leadership of our county, second to the military, third to health care and finally to Joe Average — come to think of it, it reminds me of how things were divided in Stalinist Russia.

I have heard the discussions before the P&Z, the County Commissioners, read the articles, blogs and opinions in the Mountain Home News and watched the DVD. I’ve listened to the arguments, pro and con, that take place throughout the county and I must say that the controversy over a rezone application has this whole county stymied.

I have seen how people outside of Elmore County have been brought in and have gotten deep into our business. Were they invited — yes, however; when the final decision is made, are they going to be living here to deal with the first-hand consequences of that decision? NO, they won’t!

I have lived in several areas around the United States and around the world. I have lived in areas of extreme prosperity and in utter poverty — and as a personal preference, I chose the comforts of prosperity. I heard it said at one meeting that, “…electricity is overrated.” We, in these United States, are accustomed to many hi-tech devices that we may not know how they work, it just suits our cause when and because they work. I’m not an expert, but I think it requires electricity to take such things as X-rays for proper dental work, broken bone manipulation or detailed neurological procedures. I seem to remember that farmers need electricity to run the water pumps for their irrigation lines in order to get to the point of harvest of hay, corn, wheat or potatoes. I know it is very time consuming to milk dairy cattle by hand and when you have upwards of 5,000 or 6,000 head of cattle that require two milkings per day it can be a VERY time consuming job, unless a dairy has the financial resources to employ hundreds of workers and we wish to pay $10 or more for a gallon of milk.

Since the time I arrived in Idaho in 1997, my power bill has tripled. When I arrived, I too asked the question of why isn’t wind or solar energy being harnessed. The standard response was hydro power is so cheap and plentiful.

So in 12 years, we’ve experienced drought, population growth, economic downturn and a serious lack to decisively invest into new sources of power. We are now so far behind the power curve it’s pitiful. To have known it would come to this level of disparity was unthinkable. No one could have known, but we did have the knowledge and resources available during the good years that could have made these tough times a bit more bearable, had we prepared.

I know the issues of rezone, water use, nuclear power, availability of suitable farm land all have their supporters and opponents to some degree, but the desired advancement throughout time has been this: we seek to make better, to use more efficiently, to build in a margin of safety wherever possible.

If we seek to “do it right,” I believe the co-existence of these issues is entirely possible, plausible and suitable for Elmore County.

Fears, yes, they exist because the human factor exists. But if we become so captivated by those fears that we become frozen in place rather than being motivated to exercise caution and seek safety at every turn to make it better, we can go forward with an expectation of success for everyone.

Of all the nuclear power facilities in the world — have all been failures? Have all been shut down because of fears of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? Have we not learned from the mistakes that were made of improper design? Has not the Nuclear Regulatory Commission been involved to inspect and certify plants for the public’s safety?

Our world is constantly changing. I enjoy the rural lifestyle of Elmore County and even get fed up with traffic surges that happen twice daily throughout the workweek. But change required stoplights to be installed, road maintenance and improvements to be accomplished; all because we are growing county and that is already a fact of life.

If we want to keep our status quo, then we need to limit our household growths to 1 or 2 children, mandated by law (I think that idea was called Zero Population Growth — back in the ’70s and ’80s; it didn’t work) — reminds me of current day China. Mountain Home has about doubled in size since the 1990s and will probably continue to grow as time goes on. This doesn’t even include the rest of southwestern Idaho, which has seen a marked growth since the mid-1990s.

Change is inevitable and with change comes new requirements. Satisfaction of those requirements must be met and for an economy that means taxes, or housing, or jobs, or transportation, or construction or a myriad of things to meet those requirements.

So what do we do? We have a company that wishes to come into Elmore County (it really didn’t matter to this company where they came in as was evidenced by the Owyhee County course of events and to know that they were invited) to take a piece of land that is not prime and to establish an enterprise on that land.

If it was prime farmland, people would be scrambling at every opportunity to obtain and farm the land. It is land that does have farmable soil and relatively good position to highway and rail support. But the slope of the landscape causes high water drainage and proximity to the Snake River, which funnels the air and causes high evaporation of the remaining moisture content greatly decreases the viable use of this parcel of land for great farming purposes.

This company proposes to level the land, build a viable enterprise, boost the economy and improve the infrastructure of Elmore County. Would they be so determined in their efforts to complete this venture unless they were serious? Fact or fiction?

If you don’t want to promote growth, provide jobs and make improvements to Elmore County, then takes these objectives out of your plans, otherwise; make the plans coincide properly with these objectives, allow the rezone, and move forward.

Roy D. Newer II

Mountain Home News, July 15, 2009
Nuclear power plnt would be a boon to local economy

Dear editor:
This past spring, I spent quite a bit of time doing community organizing work in Elmore County on the rezone for Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.’s proposed power plant. This included visiting Elmore County towns for petition signatures and showing people how they could get involved in the effort to bring well-paying jobs and clean industry to Elmore County.

It was hard work and exciting, but I wasn’t emotionally prepared for the poverty I would see going door-to-door in Glenns Ferry and Hammett. In homes, food lines, businesses and on the street, I came across hardworking people very worried about their futures and how they would keep a roof over their heads. Many were seasonal agricultural workers.

Economic development is a social justice issue. Many times, influential people who run the established order want to keep things the way they are. That’s not necessarily a bad thing especially if, like Elmore County farmers, they work hard, employ people and produce a needed product like food.

However, if the established order also includes keeping people in poverty, there is something very, very wrong with that. One way to address it is through government programs. But for people to be truly economically self-sufficient, they need family-wage jobs with benefits. A power plant with 500 direct jobs, 1,500 spin-off jobs and average wages of $80,000 is one way to do it.

There is great need: according to Census Bureau data, poverty rates in the Glenns Ferry and Hammett ZIP codes are between 17 and 21 percent, well above the 12 percent state average (http://tinyurl.com/nra2jg). Of course, there are other ways to provide these jobs and if anyone else genuinely wants to provide family-wage jobs with a new industry, I urge them to submit their plans.

Also, the industries that create these family-wage jobs are taxed at much higher industrial and commercial rates. Those taxes pay for school, fire, police, parks, libraries, planning, administration, roads and lowering the taxes of everyone else. Currently, agricultural taxes simply don’t provide this level of local government funding. A power plant should also go above and beyond tax obligations and construct public buildings, establish scholarships and run a foundation for the privilege of being in a community.

It’s sad to hear people say, “The nuclear plant won’t hire Elmore people,” as though Elmore residents can’t work in a security-conscious, technically-oriented setting. I think Elmore residents are among the best qualified for nuclear plant jobs, because many are veterans or used to work at Mountain Home Air Force Base. A nuclear plant has many military aspects, including extreme security consciousness; a highly trained, armed security force; and strong safety culture.

Most jobs at a nuclear plant don’t require a college degree and some don’t require high levels of training: foodservice, janitors, landscaping and materials handling. Other jobs need training ranging from certification to advanced college degrees: mechanics, security officers, technicians, office workers, pipefitters, attorneys, managers, electricians or nuclear physicists. We believe Elmore residents already qualify for the vast majority of these jobs. We hope bright Elmore County youths will be able to return home and work at our plant or spin-off industries. In addition, the plentiful power from a nuclear plant will attract other industry.

Best of all, agriculture can continue as it always has, although wages for ag jobs may rise in a competitive job market. Our nuclear plant would occupy just 200 acres. As is common with nuclear plants, the land around ours will continue to be farmed and create a security buffer. Interestingly, the American Farm Bureau calls for increased use of nuclear power (http://tinyurl.com/kokgnq).

Environmental groups normally align themselves with social justice causes. But in this case, some are working alongside a few Hammett-area farmers to, in effect, keep struggling people from accessing better-paid jobs and opportunity. In this clash of principles, the struggling families of Elmore County have been on the losing side.

The environmental groups might say “We’re not against family-wage jobs, but a nuclear plant isn’t the way to do it.” To which I respond: If you cared to ask the struggling families of Elmore County what they think and want, you might not be so eager to tell them no.

Martin Johncox,

Boise

(Editor’s note: Johncox handles public relations for AEHI).

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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.
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[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.

“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.
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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.

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.”

Thanks to the Mountain Home news December 16, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, balanced approach, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, Mountain Home News, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, reactor types, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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As our application in Elmore County moves forward, there is understandably some debate on the issue. Recently, the Mountain Home News published a letter by Leonard Hutterman. The paper was kind enough to provide us space to respond to Mr. Hutterman and our response is reprinted below:

Gillispie says nation will depend on nuclear power

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dear editor:
Leonard Hutterman’s recent letter in the Mountain Home News is thought-provoking and will surely increase discussion of our region’s and nation’s energy future.

While we agree with many of Mr. Hutterman’s statements about the need for a balanced energy portfolio in Elmore County, we should clarify some of his assertions about nuclear and renewable energies.

We agree that renewable, nuclear and clean fossil generation all have a place in our energy portfolio. That’s a stark departure from the Snake River Alliance, which claims to favor an unbalanced approach of renewables only (curiously, they cannot bring themselves to show up at public hearings and testify in support of embattled wind farm developers; I personally think they don’t have the stomach to face a roomful of angry citizens, but that’s another story).

Our economy and security depends on a diverse energy portfolio and base-load electricity — power that is affordable, stable and absolutely reliable.

Mr. Hutterman ranked his preferences for power, quoted below in italics. We’d like to add some information to his ranking so people can make more fully informed decisions.

1. “Wind requires no water and uses little productive space and take[s] advantage of wind, of which we have plenty.” In reality, except for a few locations, Idaho only has mediocre wind potential suitable for large power production, according to www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.as…; wind cannot fill the power demands of Idaho, let alone the region. Also, wind farms require large amounts of land and roads, can kill many birds and bats, create annoying low-frequency sounds and throw dangerous ice from turbine blades. To produce as much electricity as our proposed nuclear plant, a wind farm would require about 100 times as much area (and only produce energy 17 percent of the time, compared to 92 percent for nuclear).

2. “Solar requires little or no water, uses a lot of space, and needs more sun then we have.” A new generation of thermal solar installations use sunlight to heat water to drive turbines. This improves reliability over photovoltaic solar, but does require water. So far, solar has been only 25 percent reliable.

3. “Geothermal is available in the county but the technology is not yet available to recover it efficiently.” True. Most geothermal in Idaho is marginal for electrical generation. Its best use is for heating homes and greenhouses.

4. “Natural gas based power has been developed and will likely continue to be developed in the county but it has a high cost and so many things can be made from it that using it for more than back-up power is a waste, and we are only converting it to electric not producing.” True. Natural gas is most efficiently used for heating water and buildings. While it is expensive for generating electricity, it is good for meeting summer peaking power demands, because natural gas can be brought online quickly. It emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, contributing to global warming.

5. “Nuclear based power uses water, the design determines the amount and it can be held to reasonable amounts. The public perception of the safety is out of line with reality but it is nonetheless their reality.” True. Dam collapses killed 8,000 people in the 20th century, coal pollution tens of thousands, and there are zero radiation deaths from Western commercial nuclear power. You’d have to live next to a nuclear plant for several thousand years to get as much radiation as a typical X-ray. Yet thanks to environmentalist hysteria and bad science fiction, some people still cling to the belief that nuclear power is dangerous. But, as I’ll explain in a bit, public opinion now solidly supports nuclear.

6. “Coal-based power and the clean coal technologies is an improvement over the old coal power plants but it still has a way to go.” Ironically, extreme environmentalists have contributed to global warming through their maniacal opposition to nuclear. Without nuclear, coal is the only suitable base-load source and environmentalists for decades have been content to let America meet half its power needs through coal.

It’s true that nuclear power requires water. In fact, any form of thermal power (boiling water to drive turbines) requires water for generation and cooling. Old-style nuclear reactors, with their oddly-shaped cooling towers, are notorious for consuming 30 million gallons a day, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We will be using a hybrid cooling system, commonly used on fossil thermal plants in dry areas. Instead of the large cooling towers, we will cool our plant by circulating water through a system of fans, heat sinks and ponds. While we will need to run fewer than 10 million gallons of water a day through our plant, we will only consume 100,000 gallons. The rest of the warm water will be returned to productive agricultural use through farming, greenhouses and a biofuels plant. We will have to obtain existing water rights, since new water rights are not obtainable for the Snake River. The rumors that we will suck the Snake River dry are simply false.

For more than a year now, we’ve made these facts very clear, yet our opponents continue to insist our plant will use 30 million gallons a day. Every time we present this information to them, they do the equivalent of staring at us, blinking hard, then turning around and repeating the misinformation in an even louder voice.

Regarding public opinion, a record 74 percent of Americans favor nuclear energy, according to a September 2008 Bisconti survey. The survey also found only 11 percent of Americans strongly oppose new nuclear plants. Both presidential candidates and all Republican and Democrat candidates for federal office in Idaho supported nuclear.

It was unusual to read Mr. Hutterman’s comment that we should publish more information about our company. We have two Web sites, www.idahoenergycomplex.com and www.alternateenergyholdings.com, and a blog at www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com, and we have had many news stories written about our company, technology, intentions and financing. The extensive information about our endeavors and personal histories on each of these sites should answer many questions and I invite anyone to email us questions at info@aehipower.com.

Also on my blog, I address the economic impact of our plant, how nuclear power plants are very compatible with rural areas, the out-of-state selling of Idaho’s wind and geothermal energy, and many other matters, so I won’t repeat them here. Suffice to say I answer many of the very valid questions Mr. Hutterman and others pose.

I look forward to working with Mr. Hutterman and other progressive-minded Elmore County residents on the county’s and the nation’s nuclear future.

Don Gillispie

president and CEO

Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc.