For Immediate Release
October 20, 2009
Contact: Andrea Shipley
(208) 514-8713 Cell
(208) 841-6982 Cell
Strike 3! AEHI Now Looking at Payette County for Nuke Site
The would-be developer of a nuclear reactor on the Snake River in Elmore County now says he wants to build a reactor in Payette County, despite the fact billionaire energy tycoon Warren Buffett spent millions of dollars studying a Payette site only to conclude the project didn’t make economic sense.
“We knew the day would come when Alternate Energy Holdings and its President Don Gillispie would pick up and move his Nomad Nuclear Reactor for a second time,” Snake River Alliance Energy Program Director Ken Miller said Tuesday. “AEHI couldn’t make the reactor project work in Owyhee County and it’s been held up in Elmore County because it violates the county’s comprehensive plan. There’s absolutely no reason to believe Payette County will be any more receptive than the last two counties where AEHI wore out its welcome.”
Payette County officials confirmed to the Alliance Tuesday that AEHI had submitted a comprehensive plan amendment that would be required to build a nuclear reactor on about 5,100 acres in Payette County. In a news release, Mr. Gillispie said the rezoning application for the Elmore County project “is still in process.”
“Mr. Gillispie has moved up and down the river more than Huck Finn,” Miller said. “The people and government of Payette County should place a call to those in Owyhee and Elmore counties to see what they’re going to be dealing with. If Warren Buffett’s giant MidAmerican Energy decided a nuke plant in Payette County didn’t pencil out after spending $13 million studying the site, what makes Mr. Gillispie believe he can pull it off? Mr. Buffett had three things Mr. Gillispie lacks: Money, a proven energy track record, and credibility among local residents.”
The Alliance noted that when MidAmerican officials held a public meeting in Payette in December 2007, several residents expressed grave concerns about a reactor’s water consumption and the impacts it and its massive water requirements would have on the region’s lifeblood agriculture industry.
The Snake River Alliance has reported multiple times that, based on AEHI’s astonishing filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, AEHI has been hemorrhaging money. After issuing about 100 million shares of stock, Mr. Gillispie’s AEHI reported to the SEC in August that it has run up a total deficit since coming to Idaho of $10.1 million and that it had $138,000 in cash or cash equivalents on hand to show for it. In that filing, the company warned: “We do not have capital sufficient to meet our cash needs. We will have to seek loans or equity placements to cover such case needs. Once exploration commences, our needs for additional financing is likely to increase substantially. No commitments to provide additional funds have been made by our management or other stockholders. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that any additional funds will be available to us to allow it to cover our expenses as they may be incurred.”
AEHI came to Idaho in 2007 with a headline-grabbing plan to build a reactor near Bruneau on the Snake River in Owyhee County, only to meet stiff local resistance and confront a county that became weary of such antics as AEHI erecting required meteorological towers without county permits. It then abandoned that self-proclaimed “perfect place for a reactor” and moved upstream to a site on precious farmland in Elmore County, near Hammett, where residents quickly arrayed against the reactor and the devastation it would cause in the agricultural community. Elmore County’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended his request to rezone the land for the plant be rejected as a violation of the county’s comprehensive plan. The County Commission refused to overrule the planners, sending the matter back to the county’s planning department. Saying he was tired of waiting for Elmore County to approve his project, Mr. Gillispie said in August he was fielding offers from other jurisdictions, including the state of Idaho, which immediately denied making any such offer to AEHI.
“So now he’s moving back downstream to Payette County,” Miller said. “Before foisting his Vagabond Nuke Plant on yet another Idaho county, perhaps Mr. Gillispie should pay more attention to his company’s financial health and to his company’s reputation in Idaho. This was a horrendous idea in Owyhee County and an equally outrageous scheme in Elmore County where, by the way, Mr. Gillispie took the obnoxious step of signing up residents for phantom jobs at his supposed nuclear plant. Are all those would-be nuclear plant workers now supposed to commute to Payette County?”
The Alliance also pointed out that the NRC hasn’t received any applications for an Idaho reactor from AEHI, which has notified the NRC in the past that it planned to change reactor designs and vendors and that it needed additional time to submit its application to the federal government. In addition, AEHI has yet to erect the meteorological towers – which the NRC said are required to gather at least a year’s worth of data – at the Elmore County site.
Furthermore, since AEHI’s arrival in Idaho, the Alliance has pointed out that none of Idaho’s three regulated electric utilities have expressed any interest in purchasing power from AEHI. Beyond the lack of utility support, money, property, water, or an announced vendor for its reactor, the Alliance notes that AEHI has failed to address the huge problem of transmission.
The state of Idaho and Idaho’s utilities have expressed concern about growing transmission constraints on lines in Idaho, and AEHI has yet to address how it intends to move its power from any of the three sites where it has shopped its reactor project.
The Snake River Alliance works for responsible solutions to nuclear waste and a nuclear-free future. It seeks to strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities through the implementation of renewable energy sources in Idaho and the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. This year marks its 30th Anniversary as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for clean energy.