August 10, 2010
CONTACT: Snake River Alliance
Andrea Shipley, executive director
208-344-9161 (w); 208-514-8713 (c)

Nomad Nuke Peddler AEHI Surrenders in Elmore County

Facing overwhelming community opposition and a skeptical county government, developers of Idaho’s Vagabond Nuclear Reactor surrendered Tuesday and withdrew their rezoning application in Elmore County, retrenching instead to Payette County where their project is every bit as much a long shot.

Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., which does business out of a storefront operation in Eagle and which has yet to find the deep pockets needed to pull off its reactor scheme, issued a news release Tuesday saying it would “move forward exclusively on a proposed nuclear power plant in Payette County, Idaho (sic) and, in turn, has withdrawn its zoning application in Elmore County, Idaho.” AEHI said it recently identified a “new Idaho backup site adjacent to the current site in Payette County to replace the Elmore site,” although when it first announced that backup site the company said it would continue to pursue building a reactor in Elmore County.

“How lucky for Payette County to have ‘exclusive’ rights to Idaho’s nuclear booby prize,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said. “Idahoans can be excused for scratching their heads over what this company might do next and where it might do it. AEHI has become Idaho’s biggest moving target, flitting from county to county and site to site in hopes of drumming up interest in its pie-in-the-sky nuclear fiasco. This is a company that has proven to be completely unreliable and unpredictable, which we could probably dismiss if not for the fact it wants to want to jam a nuclear reactor somewhere in Idaho.”

Since rolling into Idaho from Virginia in late 2006, AEHI and its President and CEO, Don Gillispie, have had monumental problems finding a location for their reactor. Beginning with what Gillispie touted as the “perfect site” near Bruneau in Owyhee County, Gillispie abandoned that idea and moved upstream on the Snake River to Hammett in Elmore County, where he was greeted with a wall of opposition and where his reactor idea was rejected by the Planning and Zoning Commission as a violation of the county’s comprehensive plan.

Gillispie and AEHI clung to a possible breakthrough in Elmore County, but annoyed that the county wasn’t acting fast enough they quickly left yet again to move back downstream to Payette County. The company excitedly announced yet another ideal site, but in July it announced entering into a purchase agreement – not to be confused with an actual purchase – for an adjacent parcel that it described as “much larger, with superior water rights and transmission rights-of-way when compared to the Elmore site.”

“Either Mr. Gillispie and AEHI have very short attention spans, or they are proving themselves as serial exaggerators,” Shipley said. “Either way, those aren’t qualities you’d look for in a nuclear reactor developer.”

Shipley also noted that in 2009, Gillispie announced that assorted and unnamed Idaho counties were courting his company, although none of them came forward. He also boasted that “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,” but the Snake River Alliance immediately discovered the state made no such offer and proved the claim was false.
Shipley also noted that during AEHI’s short stay in Elmore County, the company boasted that it accepted dozens of employment inquiries and that it promised scores of high-paying jobs to Elmore County residents – jobs that have left along with the company and its empty promises.

“It goes without saying, but it’s once again time to run AEHI through a reality check,” Shipley said. “Each site it discovers on its tortuous march across southern Idaho is the ‘ideal site’ and each one is perfectly suited for a nuclear reactor—at least until a county commission starts to ask questions or until public support evaporates or until the pool of possible investors dries up. AEHI has introduced Idaho to no fewer than three deep pocket financiers, none of which have produced the funds needed to pull this off. Everywhere AEHI and Mr. Gillispie show up, the communities and government officials quickly see through the scheme and up or down the river they go.

AEHI recently submitted its rezoning application to Payette County officials, who will need to spend months analyzing the document. Even if Payette County were to rezone the property from agricultural to industrial as AEHI requests, the company would still need to obtain a conditional use permit. And even then, it will be years before it can file required applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), since the company has yet to begin gathering required meteorological and other data required by the NRC and it has not begun to study alternate sites for the reactor, also as required by the NRC.

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.