AEHI May Take Its Vaudeville Nuke Scheme Elsewhere

Media Release

August 6, 2009
Contact: Andrea Shipley
(208) 344-9161
Email: [email protected]

The would-be developer of a nuclear reactor on the Snake River says he’s so tired of Elmore County not giving in to his demands that he’s thinking of taking his Nomad Nuclear Reactor Scheme to another county that may be more accommodating.

“Elmore County’s delay has created a friendly competition for our plant,” Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., CEO Don Gillispie said in a news release issued Thursday. “We are now looking at two additional sites outside of the current county that may actually receive local approval before the existing site.” Gillispie’s release also says: “AEHI is pleased to announce several Idaho counties and the state have recently offered lands for AEHI’s nuclear plant following delays in local approval and the current site in Elmore County.”

The company doesn’t identify the counties or state agency that rolled out the welcome mat for AEHI’s nuclear reactor, which would require massive amounts of water and would leave a legacy of highly contaminated spent fuel on the site. Gillispie’s threat to bail out of Elmore County comes just 15 months after he fled his self-described “perfect place” for a reactor on C.J. Strike Reservoir in Owyhee County to move upstream to what he described as an even more perfect place in Elmore County, where the Planning & Zoning Commission has recommended the needed rezone for the plant be rejected because it violates the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The County Commission failed to address the issue, kicking it back to the planners and delaying any consideration indefinitely.

“Mr. Gillispie can’t seem to take no for an answer, and while that’s an admirable trait in the sales business, not so much in the nuclear reactor business,” said Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley. “Mr. Gillispie’s one-man Nuclear Vaudeville Act is beyond tiresome. He told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission he’d file his reactor application by the end of this year, and there’s no way that will happen. He has no money and little prospect of getting any. He has no plant design. He has no land. He has absolutely no chance of building a reactor in Elmore County or anywhere else in Idaho. I’m sure his not-so-veiled threat to Elmore County will endear him to officials charged with protecting the county’s environment and precious agricultural heritage. Threats may work back home in Virginia, but they don’t work here in Idaho.”

Shipley also noted that Gillispie claimed 400 Elmore County residents showed up at an AEHI sidewalk booth the night of the April County Commission meeting to turn in resumes for promised AEHI jobs, with some promised priority review if they also testified in favor of the reactor.

“So if Mr. Gillispie pulls up stakes again and continues fishing upstream for a more hospitable county, are all these Elmore County residents who turned in their resumes supposed to commute 100 miles or more to Cassia or Power County?” Shipley said. “Mr. Gillispie has a history of promising what he can’t deliver, and his threat to go elsewhere is an insult to everyone in Elmore County, including those he said could land high-paying jobs at his plant. If Mr. Gillispie expects to be taken seriously, perhaps he can tell us what counties he is talking to and what state agency he says has ‘offered lands’ for his project. That’s something that every Idahoan should demand to know.”

Gillispie claims “AEHI’s site engineering contractor is completing their (SIC) assessments so we can move forward in a timely manner on these new nuclear plant locations.” He also says the company “has also been in contact with several non-nuclear utilities who are considering nuclear plants instead of continuing to invest in the rising cost of carbon plants going forward and need nuclear experienced partners.”

“Nuclear experienced?” Shipley said. “The next reactor AEHI builds will be its first. And as for utilities champing at the bit to partner up with AEHI, let’s remember that none of Idaho’s regulated utilities are considering nuclear power in their portfolios and in the resource plans they file with the Public Utilities Commission. That should put AEHI’s claim to be able to provide power for all of Idaho to rest.” Shipley also said Gillispie’s claim that the region “is critically short on base load energy options” is groundless. Those same utility resource plans, as well as the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which carefully reviews resource adequacy in the region, indicate just the opposite of Gillispie’s claim.

The Snake River Alliance also questioned Gillispie’s claim that the state of Idaho has “recently offered lands” for his reactor.

The Alliance was interested in Gillispie’s claim, so we did what anyone curious about the issue would do. We called the Department of Lands to inquire about it.

“It is news to us,” said Deputy Director Kathy Opp. Ms. Opp said she reviewed the AEHI release and that in her view it does not reflect the Department of Lands’ relationship with AEHI, which is virtually nonexistant. The department never offered any lands to AEHI for sale or lease, she said. And if Gillispie was interested in leasing a state parcel, it would have to go through a lengthy process and ultimately approval by the Land Board. AEHI has not initiated such a process, and the Department of Lands has not contacted AEHI to offer any land for a reactor, Ms. Opp said.

“State endowment lands are administered by the Department of Lands primarily for the benefit of Idaho’s students, and they are generally not for sale,” Shipley said. “When they are sold, the maximum acreage for any purchaser is 320 acres, while Mr. Gillispie’s Elmore County site is almost 1,400 acres. And even if Mr. Gillispie was interested in leasing the lands, does anyone believe the state would grant a lease for prime land adjacent to an Idaho waterway knowing full well that it will be left with a mountain of nuclear waste that has nowhere to go?”

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.