Idaho Energy Update

June 6, 2008

The developers of the on again-off again Owyhee County nuclear power plant finally told the county their company is leaving for good, but nuke watchers across southern Idaho remain vigilant about the prospects of a plant in Elmore County as well as in Owyhee County. Read on for developments on this and other energy issues in Idaho.

Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them my way!


Ken Miller

Clean Energy Program Director

Snake River Alliance

(208) 344-9161 office

(208) 841-6982 cell

[email protected]


I: AEHI Makes It Official in Owyhee: We’re Out of Here, and Keep the $50,000

The proponent of Idaho’s first commercial nuclear power plant has finally advised Owyhee County of his plans to shove off and take his nuke plant upstream – but not after the county had to send him a letter to ask what his intentions are.

According to records provided to the Snake River Alliance in response to a public records request, Owyhee County Planning Coordinator Fred Kelly Grant sent a letter to Don Gillispie, the CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. Here’s the full text of Mr. Grant’s letter:

“Dear Mr. Gillispie,

Owyhee County still holds your application for a nuclear power plant as an active pending application. Please advise the county at your earliest convenience of your intentions in this matter, and if we can expect a formal withdrawal.”

Before we get to Mr. Gillispie’s response, it’s worth noting that as of May 13, Owyhee County apparently had not been 1) Formally advised of AEHI’s plans for its nuclear power plant and 2) That AEHI moved from its old Boise address to its current address in an Eagle strip mall. AEHI’s current address is 911 Winding Creek Drive, Suite 150, Eagle, ID 83616 and its phones are 208 939-9311 (voice) and 939-9260 (fax).

Idaho Energy Update readers will recall that it took Owyhee County multiple attempts to extract the $50,000 AEHI pledged to offset the county’s costs to process the mammoth power plant application. Now it appears the county had to rattle AEHI’s cage to find out whether it in fact really intended to withdraw its application. In all fairness to AEHI, here is the company’s complete response to Mr. Grant, in a letter dated May 30, and provided to the SRA in response to a records request:

Dear Mr. Kelly,

In response to your letter dated May 13, 2008, the proposed nuclear plant site known as Crystal Springs Ranch shows a series of geologic faults and other possible environmental impacts that are inconsistent with the essential requirements for deployment of a nuclear generation facility. Because of the problematic nature of the location, the site would not likely be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Therefore, we hereby withdraw out pending application for construction of a nuclear power plant.

When we first approached Owyhee County, we promised that we would be good neighbors and stewards for this project. After extensive study of the location, we were able to conclude that we would not be able to sustain the integrity of that promise. Our word was bond to Owyhee County citizens and despite some loss of economic impact, it is best for the safety of our neighbors.

Owyhee County is blessed with leaders that are able to successfully balance the needs of its residents. Other counties would do well to take note of the leadership of Owyhee County.

We are pleased to gift the county with $50,000 as a way to help prime the pump for further energy economic development.

 Best Regards,

Don Gillispie

 As we’ve reported here before, the $50,000 Mr. Gillispie refers to in the above paragraph is hardly a “gift” to Owyhee County. It is in fact the same $50,000 that Owyhee County had to extract from him and his company after multiple attempts – and it is merely to cover the costs to the county for processing his nomad nuclear power plant application. It is an obligation that AEHI and Mr. Gillispie owed to Owyhee County, and it’s worth noting that as Mr. Gillispie takes his wandering nuke plant to another county – in this case 15 miles upstream to Elmore County – that taxpayers and county officials in Elmore should be vigilant about the company’s history to date in Idaho. Get the money up front before you start processing any permits. Also know that while AEHI has finally and officially withdrawn from Owyhee County, it is very likely that the current property owner in Owyhee County may pursue a nuclear power plant application at the same time Mr. Gillispie launches his ill-advised scheme in Elmore County.

II: NWEC Board Meeting in Helena: Idahoans Relish in Success in the Northwest

The NW Energy Coalition held its spring conference and board meeting in Helena last weekend, and for the Idahoans in attendance and the rest of the huge crowd, the event was inspirational as well as strategic.

“This is why we come to NWEC meetings,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said. “It’s a chance for those of us in states and provinces around the Pacific Northwest to get to know each other better, but also to understand the common issues we’re all working on. Idahoans in particular left this event, as we usually do, inspired and recharged as we prepare to take on the renewable energy and energy efficiency issues in front of us.”

We’ll be sending a summary of the NWEC Helena 2008 meeting and the sessions early next week. In the meantime, we want to salute those in the Idaho caucus who made it to Helena, including Pat Ford of Save Our wild Salmon; Mike Heckler, a new individual member of NWEC and who was elected last weekend to NWEC’s Board; Rhys Roth from Climate Solutions; Suzanne Leta Lieu from the Renewable Northwest Project.

The Idaho Caucus had a spirited discussion on wind projects and possible sage grouse issues, as well as the pending Climate Solutions Idaho Energy Independence Project.

III: NEEA Sets June 9 Strategic Planning Workshop in Boise:  

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) will hold a strategic planning workshop from 10 a.m. to noon June 9 at the Idaho Power Company Auditorium in Boise.

NEEA is a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficient products and services in the Northwest states. It is supported by the region’s utilities, including Idaho Power and the Bonneville Power Administration, as well as state governments and other entities in the region.

The Boise meeting will include a discussion of key issues on how NEEA can enhance energy efficiency and conservation efforts in Idaho. Or, as Idaho Power said in announcing the meeting: “The purpose of this workshop is to allow stakeholders and interested parties the opportunity to express their opinion on defining the goals and future path of this organization. Idaho Power would like to ensure that the views of all that are involved or affected by our NEEA partnership are represented and able to contribute to this discussion and we believe that your attendance and input will be very beneficial to the success of the workshop.”

All who are interested in finding ways for Idaho Power and NEEA to improve on the state of our energy efficiency programs are urged to attend. But you should register beforehand if possible. For more information about NEEA, or to register for the workshop, visit You can go to the “Participate” section and then “Workshops” and register.

IV: DOE to Invest in Western States Renewable Zones

Following are two releases about the Department of Energy’s plans to find Renewable Energy Zones in our region:

News Media Contact(s):
Bethany Shively, (202) 586-4940

For Immediate Release
May 28, 2008

DOE to Invest up to $2.3 Million to Identify Renewable Energy Zones in Western States The Renewable Energy Zones Initiative will promote regional transmission planning and encourage the development of renewable sources of energy   WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar today announced the Department’s plans to contribute up to $2.3 million over three years, subject to annual appropriations, to identify areas in the Western United States with vast renewable energy resources, and expedite the development and delivery of those resources to meet regional energy needs.  The Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) project, launched by the Western Governors’ Association in cooperation with DOE, furthers the Department’s ongoing efforts to address generation and transmission challenges through a regional approach.

“The importance of this initiative is two-fold; not only does it highlight the areas in the West that are able to provide clean, reliable, and abundant sources of energy, it also stresses the importance of regional electricity planning to prevent the balkanization of new renewable sources and develop the infrastructure necessary to carry this power to consumers,” Assistant Secretary Kolevar said.  “The Bush Administration is committed to diversifying our nation’s energy generation mix, and renewables will play a major role in this effort as we try to advance the viability, sustainability, and security of our energy infrastructure.”

DOE will carry out the study under a cooperative agreement with WGA.  The project will involve four phases: 1) identification of Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) in the Western Interconnection; 2) development of regional transmission plans to enhance access to renewable resources located in these zones; 3) development of a transparent process for bringing together buyers and sellers of electricity generated from renewable energy sources; and 4) building interstate cooperation to address permitting and multi-state cost-allocation issues.

“Unprecedented challenges face the West in meeting the growing demand for electricity, while achieving local and global environmental goals,” said Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. “The WREZ project will help us tap our vast renewable resources and develop transmission that considers communities, environmental impacts, and costs.”

By identifying concentrations of viable renewable resources both within and outside of zones throughout the Western Interconnection, load-serving entities, transmission providers, renewable energy developers, and state regulators will be able to make better-informed decisions regarding both the costs of renewable power, as well as the development and siting of infrastructure to access areas with renewable sources of energy.

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability leads the Bush Administration’s national effort to modernize the electric grid; enhance security and reliability of the United States’ energy infrastructure; and facilitate recovery from disruptions to energy supply.  For more information, visit the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

DOE to Identify Western Transmission Needs for Renewable Energy

DOE announced last week that it will work with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) to identify areas in the West with substantial renewable energy resources and to expedite the development and delivery of that energy to meet regional energy needs. Subject to congressional appropriations, DOE plans to contribute up to $2.3 million over the next 3 years to the Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) project, which was launched by WGA and DOE. Under a cooperative agreement with WGA, DOE will help to identify the WREZs, develop regional transmission plans to enhance access to the WREZs, create a transparent process to bring together utilities and the companies developing those renewable energy resources, and encourage interstate cooperation to address permitting and cost issues with transmission lines that cross state lines. Participating in the project are 11 western states, two Canadian provinces, and areas in Mexico that are part of the Western Interconnection, the massive electrical grid that supplies electricity to most of the West. See the DOE press release and the WGA’s WREZ Web site.

DOE is also working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assess the impacts associated with solar energy development on BLM-managed public lands in six western states. The joint Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) will assess the environmental, social, and economic impacts from solar energy projects located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The joint PEIS will also evaluate a number of alternative management strategies to determine which presents the best management approach for the agencies to adopt in terms of mitigating potential impacts and facilitating solar energy development while carrying out their respective missions. The measures adopted as a result of this PEIS will provide consistency and certainty for solar energy development and will help expedite environmental analysis for site-specific projects in the future.

During its work on the PEIS, the BLM will focus attention on the 125 applications already received for rights-of-way for solar energy development, while deferring new applications until after completion of the PEIS. The 125 existing applications involve almost a million acres of land and have the potential to generate 70,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 20 million average U.S. homes. The PEIS will establish a process for accepting future applications, possibly through a competitive process, which would be likely to attract companies with the experience and resources necessary to quickly deploy solar energy projects. The BLM is accepting comments on the scope of the PEIS through July 15 and will also hold public scoping meetings in the six states from mid-June through early July. See the BLM press release and the Solar Energy Development PEIS Web site.

On the Agenda:

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on June 9 and June 23. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance holds a Regional Strategic Planning Workshop June 9 in Boise. See above for more information.

The Snake River Alliance holds a Community Dinner to discuss the national Carbon-Free and Nuclear Free 2050 campaign on June 25. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m. at the Basque Center at 601 West Grove Street. The Alliance will be rolling out the theme for the national Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free campaign. You’re encouraged to join the Alliance for a traditional dinner meeting. Call 344-9161 for details.