Idaho Energy Update
Sept. 19, 2008
The developer of the proposed Elmore County nuclear reactor has notified federal regulators that he’ll submit his permit application this time next year rather than this time this year, as originally proposed. AEHI still hasn’t told the feds what kind of reactor it hopes to use for its Idaho project. Meanwhile, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is looking for public input on a proposed coal gasification plant in Power County, and Idaho Power and its clean energy partners are poised to begin a month of energy efficiency awareness programs in October.
For details on these and other developments, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them my way!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Elmore Nuke Plant Developer Now Plans NRC Filing in 4th Quarter 2009
The developer of a proposed 1,600MW nuclear reactor south of Mountain Home has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., will submit its application to build the plant in the fourth quarter of 2009, a year ater than originally intended.
In a letter dated Aug. 14 and just posted on the NRC’s website (www.nrc.gov), AEHI Chairman and CEO Don Gillispie responded to an inquiry from NRC staff about his company’s plans to build the Idaho reactor. The company had previously told the NRC it would submit its “combined license” application in the fourth quarter of this year, but in the letter it said: “It is our intention to submit the complete COLA application with all necessary supporting documentation during the fourth quarter of 2009. The proposed facility will be sited near Hammett, Idaho in Elmore County.”
In an Aug. 26 response to yet another NRC inquiry about the delay in submitting the application, AEHI wrote: “The reason for the delay is that the initial reactor site in Owyhee County Idaho (sic) was unsuitable due to seismic faults that were not initially identified; therefore we had to find a new site in Elmore County, near Hammet, ID. In addition, we are considering a different technology for the reactor. When we have further information we will update NRC.” That letter was not signed by Gillispie, but by his executive assistant, Angie Haynes.
That AEHI reported to the NRC that the reason for moving from Owyhee County to Elmore County was related to seismic faults is telling. Those who have followed AEHI’s wanderings through the south Idaho sagebrush from west to east will recall that Mr. Gillispie was quoted by the Idaho Statesman on April 5 as saying: “Our option (on the Owyhee County land) kept getting extended, and as we were waiting for financing, the price kept going up.” The Statesman article continues: He said the initial purchase price was $17 million, but it had since increased to $60 million, with the landowner seeking equity in the plant. “What has happened has slowed everybody down,” Gillispie said. “But we’re optimistic, and the new land will save us money.”
The Statesman account, as with others back in April, also noted Mr. Gillispie’s claims that the Elmore site was preferable because the company would have easier access to the site for its reactor and other plant components. All of this was known to the company when Mr. Gillispie identified the Owyhee site as the perfect site for AEHI’s plant. But the only reason for the move provided to the NRC was that the old site had seismic issues, which may or may not exist at the new site just 15 miles upstream.
Finally, AEHI is about to begin making its rezoning case to the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 8 without having identified what kind of reactor it plans to use for its nuclear plant. That information would probably be helpful next month in the event AEHI attempts to convince county officials, residents and others that its reactor will consume the scant amounts of precious Snake River water the company claims.
II: DEQ Seeks Comment on Power County Goal Gasification Project
The Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday that it’s taking public comment through Oct. 24 on a proposal by the Southeast Idaho Energy Power County Advanced Energy Center to build a fertilizer manufacturing plant near American Falls in Power County in southeast Idaho.
The original proposal for the Southeast Idaho Energy project was to develop a coal-fired generation plant in Power County, but developers gave up on that idea and shifted instead to their current proposal for a fertilizer and diesel fuel manufacturing plant. According to a DEQ news release posted on the agency website (www.deq.idaho.gov), the agency “has determined that operation of the facility under the proposed permit conditions will not cause or contribute to violation of any ambient air quality standard and will not injure or unreasonably affect human or animal life or vegetation.”
Some concerned residents in the area are not so sure that the facility will be environmentally benign. DEQ will hold a public hearing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9 in the Community Room of the American Falls Library.
For more information on this proposal, go to: http://www.deq.state.id.us/public/whats_new.cfm
III: Idaho Power Joins with Partners for Energy Awareness Month
Idaho Power and its partners are celebrating “Energy Awareness Month” in October with a series of sustainable energy workshops and other events. Joining Idaho Power are the Discovery Center and Boise Public Library – each planning to promote energy efficiency and conservation ideas and initiatives.
“Everyday Energy Efficiency” will be part of the Discovery Center’s October energy exhibits, beginning Oct. 3 at the Discovery Center with an “energy bike” that helps riders better understand how much energy is needed to power a variety of appliances and other household fixtures. The Boise Public Library will begin its Fall 2008 Energy Efficiency and Green Living Series with the first class on Oct. 2.
For more information on Energy Awareness Month, visit www.idahopower.com/energycenter
On the Agenda:
► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Sept. 29 and Oct. 6, 20, and 27. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us
► The Snake River Alliance is sponsoring the second in a series of energy breakfasts in Hailey from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at CK’s Restaurant. This month’s breakfast is “Utilizing Solar Power in the Wood River Valley” and will feature a panel of experts that includes Chris Kastner, owner and chef at CK’s Restaurant, Garth Callahan, owner of Energy Savers of Idaho, and Neil Bradshaw, president of the board of the Ketchum Community Development Committee. The program will focus on helping commercial and residential property owners get into building new and retrofitting with solar, and how solar can help improve your bottom line. For more information or to RSVP, call 208 344-9161.
► The Sun Valley Sustainability Conference takes place from Oct. 23-25 in Sun Valley, Idaho. For the agenda, speakers, continuing education opportunities, sponsorship and other information, go to: http://www.sunvalleysustainability.org/
► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will be taking public comments through Dec. 9 on Idaho Power’s request to implement its “advanced metering infrastructure” across its service territory through 2011. Idaho Power proposes to spend an estimated $70 million to deploy the new meters for its customers. The meters allow the utility to read from a remote location and also to inform customers about energy-saving opportunities in hopes of reducing energy consumption. For more information on Idaho Power’s request and the PUC’s order, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then to “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and then to IPC-E-08-16.