MidAmerican Energy’s Decision Proves to Alternate Energy Holdings the Cost of Nuclear Energy is Too High
Snake River Alliance News Release
Jan. 29, 2008

Andrea Shipley, Snake River Alliance Executive Director
(208) 344–9161 office
(208) 514-8713 cell

BOISE, ID—MidAmerican Energy and its newly created MidAmerican Nuclear Energy subsidiary announced Sunday they’re withdrawing plans to develop a nuclear power plant northwest of Boise in Payette County. It’s a prudent business decision, and one that Don Gillispie and his colleagues and investors at Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) should heed as they consider the wisdom of building a nuclear plant on the shores of C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau.

MidAmerican is the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power and PacifiCorp and is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Andrea Shipley, executive director of the Snake River Alliance says, “If one of the nation’s largest utility holding companies and one of the nation’s most savvy business investors have concluded that building a merchant nuke plant is too financially risky, what makes AEHI with its flimsy financial backing (its stock closed at 22.5 cents a share Tuesday) think it can pull off a proposal in Owhyee County? Mr. Gillispie should pay attention to Mr. Buffett’s $13 million research, proving nuclear power costs are too high for Idaho.”

After spending millions studying the Payette County site and before it spent millions more, MidAmerican killed its proposal for the Idaho nuclear plant more than eight months before its self-imposed deadline to determine whether the Idaho site was appropriate for the plant. Company officials said new information about the true costs of building the plant prompted them to cut their losses and leave Idaho.

In addition, according to Idahoans surveyed by Boise State University, 70 percent of Idahoans say they oppose construction of a merchant nuclear plant in Idaho to meet out-of-state power demand. That’s especially true given a recent Keystone Center Nuclear Power Joint Fact-Finding Report that placed the cost of nuclear power at between 8.3 and 11.1 cents per kilowatt hour – nearly twice what Idahoans now pay for their electricity and more expensive than most wind power in the West.

“It didn’t pencil out for MidAmerican and it won’t pencil out for AEHI,” Shipley said. “Based on costs alone, it’s a bad business decision for investors and a non-starter for Idaho ratepayers. Factor in the immense environmental costs from uranium mining and the storage of highly radioactive spent reactor fuel on-site in Idaho and the obvious security threats, and you have to believe AEHI’s investors will come to the same conclusion that Mr. Buffett reached.”

AEHI has also exhibited indifference if not disregard for the people of Owyhee County and for the county’s laws. Unlike MidAmerican, which conducted itself in a transparent and business-like fashion in Payette County by holding a public meeting and agreeing to answer concerns from local residents, AEHI has violated Owyhee County ordinances by erecting towers on its proposed nuke plant site without required permits and has sought to limit public inquiries about its proposal. AEHI’s behavior in Owyhee County raises more questions than answers about the company’s plans and how it’s interacting with county officials.

“If AEHI is thumbing its nose at Owyhee County and the state of Idaho before even filing an application for its power plant, people in Owyhee County and across Idaho should be concerned about this company’s willingness to comply with other laws and requirements,” Shipley said.

The Snake River Alliance is a nonprofit organization working towards energy solutions for Idaho and dedicated to serving as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog.