Idaho Energy Update
October 23, 2009
The firm hoping to build a nuclear reactor in Idaho has turned its attention to a third site in less than three years – this time to Payette County, where billionaire Warren Buffett spent $13 million exploring a site only to walk away saying it didn’t pencil out. Also, you still have until Nov. 6 to weigh in on the important 6th Power Plan that will help guide the energy future for our region. For more on these developments and others, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Idaho Nuke Developer Moves Downstream – This Time to Payette County
The would-be developer of an Idaho nuclear reactor has turned his gaze to the third Idaho county in less than three years, this time filing an application to amend the Payette County comprehensive plan to accommodate a reactor on about 5,000 acres in the western Idaho county.
Alternate Energy Holdings and its president, Don Gillispie, announced this week they are still considering a site atop the Snake River in Elmore County, but because that county is taking too long in granting their requests they are looking to move downstream to Payette County on the Oregon border.
The reactor development company, which recently notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission it has run up a deficit of $10.1 million, issued nearly 100 million shares of stock, and had $138,000 in cash or cash equivalents on hand, continued what the Twin Falls Times News called its “tour of Idaho” with a stop in the same county checked out by Warren Buffett in 2007. The billionaire majority stakeholder in MidAmerican Energy spent $13 million conducting studies on a potential nuke site in Payette County only to conclude such a project didn’t make economic sense.
AEHI, which first settled in Owyhee County and moved shortly thereafter upstream on the Snake River to Elmore County, has yet to buy any property for its project nor has it filed any applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced a proposed vendor for its reactor, or erected the meteorological towers required to collect a year’s worth of weather and climate data the NRC requires. NW Energy Coalition member Snake River Alliance is tracking the project and posts updates at www.snakeriveralliance.org
Also, an editorial on the recent nuclear developments from Thursday’s Twin Falls Times-News is pasted below.
II: Nov. 6 Is Deadline to Comment on Region’s Power Plan
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council wants to remind those of us in the Pacific Northwest that we can still comment on the Council’s important 6th Power Plan through November 6.
The Power Plan, developed every five years by the regional Council, is designed to show how the region will meet its future energy needs for the coming 20 years. This plan says we can meet almost all of our new electric demand over the next two decades with new clean energy – 85 percent of it energy efficiency. What the plan DOESN’T do is to show how the region can meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set by all Northwest states except Idaho.
There’s still plenty of time to have your say and to influence how this important 6th Power Plan will turn out. You can find more information about the 6th Plan and how to comment at the NW Energy Coalition’s site at www.nwenergy.org and at the Council’s site at www.nwcouncil.org
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 9 and 23. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us. The meetings typically start at 1:30 p.m.
► Idaho Power’s Fall 2009 energy efficiency series resumes Monday with a session on saving power in the kitchen. The company’s sessions will be held at the Boise Public Library, which is a cosponsor, and run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the downtown library. Here’s the lineup:
– Oct. 26: Cooking Up Savings at Home, which focuses on ways to save energy in the kitchen with energy efficient meals, utensils, and cooking methods.
– Nov. 2: Confessions of a Green Geek, which will feature a collection of self-styled energy geeks who will discuss their green lifestyles.
– Nov. 9: I Hate My Bonus Room, which will explore ways to maintain comfort in a room with five exposed surfaces.
For details and to register for the sessions, and for presentations and information from previous sessions elsewhere in Idaho and from last year, visit www.idahopower.com/eeclasses
Or call 388-6075.
► The NW Energy Coalition’s 2009 Fall Conference takes place Nov. 13 and 14 at the Best Western Executive Inn in Seattle. As usual, NWEC’s Conference is a must-attend for anyone interested in energy issues in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s conference features a keynote address by Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft. Friday’s panels will look at Energy Efficiency: Encouraging Utility Investment, as well as Energy Efficiency: Innovating Customer Outreach, and New Transmission and the Integration of Renewables and then an update on federal legislation. For more information, visit www.nwenergy.org
► The Idaho Environmental Forum’s next session will be Oct. 26 and will focus on salmon and hydropower issues in the Pacific Northwest. “The Obama Administration’s New Take on Salmon and Federal Hydropower: Real Progress or More of the Same” will be held from noon to about 1:15, with a lunch buffet beginning at 11:30 a.m. Speakers include Norm Semanko, executive director and general counsel at the Idaho Water Users Association; Bert Bowler, founder of Snake River Salmon Solutions; and Bill McDonald, director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region. For more information and to register, visit http://www.idahoenvironmentalforum.org/Upcoming%20Sessions.html
This editorial from the Times News in Twin Falls:
Another year, another county for nuke-plant developer
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:00 am
Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.’s tour of Idaho continues, with the Eagle-based nuclear power plant developer now setting sights on Payette County. Just 41 more counties to go.
AEHI, which shifted its proposed plant from Owyhee County to Elmore County in early 2008, has asked for a comprehensive plan amendment for a privately-owned, 5,100-acre site in remote northern Payette County.
Elmore County, it seems, is being too deliberate in its due diligence.
“If we indeed want to build a nuclear power plant, we have to press forward, and that’s what we’re doing,” spokesman Martin Johncox said, emphasizing that the company hasn’t given up on Elmore County.
We wish it would, although Payette County – passed over by no less than Warren Buffett as a potential site for a nuclear plant last year – presents its own challenges.
Buffett’s MidAmerican Nuclear Energy concluded a different Payette County site didn’t pencil out, and MidAmerican has a whole lot more capital at its disposal than does AEHI CEO Don Gillispie.
“Mr. Buffett had three things Mr. Gillispie lacks: money, a proven energy track record and credibility among local residents,” said Ken Miller, the Snake River Alliance’s energy program director.
Payette County officials now face the same challenge Elmore and Owyhee officials did: Buffett’s proposal was on state land, and this will be the first nuclear-plant application Payette has handled directly. The plan amendment will require two public hearings, and AEHI officials would then need to submit a conceptual proposal and go through more hearings to actually rezone the site.
That’s much like the process that Elmore County officials are going through to make sure they get this decision right.
The Elmore County application reached county commissioners last spring, but was remanded back to that county’s Planning and Zoning Committee. An extensive comprehensive plan analysis and staff report is currently being reviewed by county staff and various attorneys.
Will Payette County commissioners prove more malleable? We hope not. The site is 38 miles from Boise, 33 miles from Nampa and 22 miles from Caldwell – and immediately upwind of 617,000 Idahoans. The same tough questions that have been asked about the Elmore County site should be asked about the Payette location.