Owyee Nuclear Power Plant Developers Refuse to Comply with Approval Process to Build Towers

Snake River Alliance News Release
Nov. 30, 2007
For Immediate Release

Contact: Andrea Shipley
Executive Director
Office: (208) 344-9161
Cell: (208) 514-8713

BOISE – Two towers have been built in Owyhee County contrary to Owyhee County’s denial of the towers in early November. One tower is a cellular tower, although there is no contract with a cellular company. The other tower is a meteorological tower designed to gather wind and other data required to process an application to build what could become Idaho’s first commercial nuclear power plant.

Virginia-based Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., wants to build a 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactor on C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau, Idaho. Building the towers is the first step in the long approval process for the plant. The fact the permit to build the towers was denied by the commission and the towers were erected this week anyway shows AEHI’s disregard for county procedures and raises serious questions about whether the company plans to follow other county requirements..

The Snake River Alliance learned Friday that despite the lack of a county-required conditional use permit and building permit, the nuclear power plant’s developers proceeded to erect the two towers at issue. Owyhee County officials didn’t learn until Thursday that AEHI put the towers up without the required permits, which is a violation of county ordinance. The issue is expected to be brought to the County Commission at its Monday meeting.

Andrea Shipley, executive director of the Snake River Alliance noted that under Idaho law, only 2 of 3 county commissioners are needed to approve building permits for the proposed nuclear plant.

“A state siting mechanism has to be in place because there is too much at stake for county commissioners,” Shipley said. “Watching AEHI attempting to run roughshod over county procedures at this early stage doesn’t bode well for public confidence the company’s commitment to working with state and local governments.

“Furthermore, Idaho does not need nuclear power,” Shipley said. “We have four to five times more undeveloped renewable energy potential than our total 1999 electricity consumption. But Idaho’s vast wind, geothermal, and solar potential cannot be achieved in our current political and regulatory climate.”

In the first application for the towers submitted to the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, it was unclear who would be responsible for the tower’s maintenance, how long the tower would remain standing, its exact location, and the ownership of the property, among other things.

County officials say AEHI withdrew a follow-up permit application on Tuesday and that the power plant developer now claims no public hearings are required for a conditional use permit for the towers. Attention now turns to the County Commission, which on Monday will discuss whether to sanction AEHI for violating county ordinances and if so what those sanctions will be.

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