For about four years, the Snake River Alliance has had an almost cartoonish nemesis: Alternate Energy Holdings Incorporated. At times our work to stop AEHI has been a central effort of our organization. For example, when AEHI first came to Idaho in 2007, we weren’t sure what the company was about, and we looked into its plans closely. It quickly became apparent that AEHI was selling nothing more than a bunch of hot air (in the form of cheap stock) and that the real threat was not a nuclear reactor, but rather a scheme to take the money of hard-working Idahoans who might invest in this impossible nuclear reactor proposal.
The Alliance carefully pointed out AEHI’s missed payments in Owyhee County. We focused on its inaccurate estimates of per kilowatt hour cost for electricity coming from a new nuclear reactor, and we repeatedly pointed out the lack of water, transmission, and even a reactor design for the proposal, not to mention the fact that the company had no capital to speak of and was not even in line for essential and limited taxpayer-funded loan guarantees for new nuclear plants from the federal government.
When AEHI moved to Elmore County, local farmers joined our efforts in huge numbers. Seeing AEHI’s blasé attempts to bring its project to prime agricultural farmland on the already over-allocated Snake River, these local residents pushed back for nearly two years at public hearings, in local papers, and at a variety of community settings. As a result of their efforts, and the support of the Alliance, County Commissioners in Elmore County finally nixed the AEHI project from consideration in October 2010.
In the meantime, AEHI had popped up in Payette County, with more promises of jobs (though not before taking hundreds of “applications” in Elmore County at a “Jobs Fair”) and billions of dollars into the local tax base. And if you believed that, I have a bridge to sell you. What better time to promise to line your pocket book than during an economic downturn?
The Securities and Exchange Commission didn’t believe AEHI either. In December 2010, the SEC filed suit against AEHI for fraud. While a judge lifted an asset freeze on the company in February 2011, the suit is still being pursued, and more charges were added by the SEC in July. Settlement proceedings began in October, but instantly stalled. AEHI is far from off the hook, and while the Payette County Commission has approved a land rezone, that has nothing to do with AEHI actually building a nuclear reactor, especially without money, a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a reactor design, or access to transmission.
In March 2011 a devastating nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor complex in Japan. The crippled reactors at that site are still not stabilized and huge swaths of land have been evacuated and contaminated, maybe permanently. The cost of that accident is enormous, both to human health and safety and economically, and underscores the risks of nuclear power development. The fact that AEHI continues to promote its plan, in the face of a lawsuit from a federal agency and amid the rapid decline of new nuclear production, shows one thing: AEHI is completely out of touch with reality. The company’s antics often resemble the kind of unscrupulous corporate greed that is caricatured in comic books.
The Alliance has better things to do than fight a pretend nemesis.
• We are working to stop an unnecessary uranium enrichment factory that did just get a license from the NRC. The French-owned company Areva may receive a $2 billion taxpayer-funded loan guarantee to leave depleted uranium above the Snake River Aquifer. That is a real threat worth fighting against.
• The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future is set to recommend that commercial nuclear waste be consolidated, and Idaho could be on the target list. Making sure more nuclear waste doesn’t come to Idaho is one of the central reasons the Alliance exists.
• The Legislature is reviewing the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan in 2012. We have been working tirelessly to make sure your voice is heard in this review and we have written extensive comments and reports calling for clean, safe and affordable energy and policies that highlight energy efficiency and renewable energy. Our clean energy program leads one of the most effective grassroots campaigns in the state to promote sustainable energy.
This work is too important to waste our time and capacity on a would-be-nuke developer looking to make a buck from shares of stock. Stock never produced a kilowatt of electricity and neither will AEHI.