Owyhee County to Bruneau Nuclear Plant Developer: Pay UP!
Snake River Alliance News Release
Feb. 8, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Andrea Shipley, Snake River Alliance Executive Director
(208) 344-9161 office
(208) 514-8713 cell
BOISE, ID— Developers of the proposed Owyhee County nuclear power plant have ignored three requests by county officials to make a payment on the mounting costs of processing the power plant application, the Snake River Alliance has learned.
According to a letter obtained by the Alliance pursuant to a public records request, Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. (AEHI) President Don Gillispie and his company agreed to pay Owyhee County $50,000 as a “preliminary fee” to help offset the county’s expenses of handling AHEI’s conditional use permit for the nuclear plant. Repeated requests for payment have gone unanswered, according to the letter.
This development comes on the heels of reports in November that AEHI illegally erected two towers at the proposed power plant site without required county building permits in violation of county ordinance.
AEHI, which until recently was based in Virginia, wants to build a 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactor on C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau. Plans for a second nuclear power plant in Idaho, by MidAmerican Energy Holdings in Payette County, were withdrawn last month after MidAmerican principal and billionaire investor Warren Buffett concluded building a nuclear plant in today’s climate did not make financial sense. AEHI is pushing ahead, despite the lack of established funding and its disregard for local government officials.
“To the people of Owyhee County and the people of Idaho, this is the kind of company you’re dealing with,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said after the Alliance received a copy of the county’s letter. “This company has built towers in violation of county ordinances, and now we learn it has ignored its agreement to pay for the huge costs it’s forcing on the people of Owyhee County.”
Shipley said AEHI promised its Idaho Energy Complex would be an economic boon for the county and for Idaho, but so far all it has done is drain the county’s coffers. Owyhee County has been forced to devote significant staff time on the power plant application, but so far has not received the money promised by the developer to offset those costs.
In the Feb. 1 letter from Owyhee County Planning and Zoning Administrator Mary Huff to officials at the Idaho Energy Complex, Ms. Huff notes that on Dec. 13, she and county consultant Fred Grant met with Mr. Gillispie and his associate, Doug McConnaughey, “to negotiate a preliminary fee to process the county conditional use permit for the Idaho Energy Complex.
“When I had not heard from you, or received the initial $50,000 which was mutually agreed to, I sent an email on Thursday, January 10th, asking for a status update,” Ms. Huff wrote. When she still hadn’t received a response by the end of Jan. 14, Ms. Huff wrote a second e-mail with a greater sense of urgency.
“Please contact me to let me know when the county can expect to receive the preliminary $50,000 fee for the nuclear power plant conditional use permit application,” she wrote. “If there is any confusion, please let me know so that we can get this cleared up quickly. If there is not any confusion, please remit to….”
Still, nothing from AEHI, according to Ms. Huff’s letter, which continues:
“I never received a response to that email and did not receive payment of any fees. This letter serves as a third request for the negotiated $50,000 to be submitted to Owyhee County so that the tax payers are not left paying the bill for all of time and expense invested in this project both since the date of the application which was over six months ago, and going forward.” She asked the company to contact her “so any issues can be cleared up as quickly as possible.”
Shipley said the AEHI’s refusal to cooperate with the county on its $50,000 nonpayment shouldn’t be a surprise, given its decision to erect a large meteorological tower and a large cellular tower despite having no contract with a cellular company and no conditional use permit or building permit.
“Until AEHI starts to comply with the law, the Alliance believes Owyhee County should halt any and all work relating to this power plant permit or any other work related to the power plant proposal and return the application to AEHI as county ordinance requires,” Shipley said. “County taxpayers are already out thousands of dollars due to AEHI’s flaunting of the law and its agreements with the county. This does not appear to be a company the county or the people of Idaho can trust.”
The Snake River Alliance is a nonprofit organization working towards energy solutions for Idaho and dedicated to serving as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog.
Editors: Here is a copy of Owyhee County Planning and Zoning Administrator Mary Huff’s most recent letter to AEHI and its Idaho Energy Complex. The letter was dated Feb. 1 and reads in part:
Dear Idaho Energy Complex,
On December 13th Fred Grant and I met with Mr. Gillespie and Mr. McConnaughey to negotiate a preliminary fee for the Nuclear Facility which Idaho Energy Complex has proposed and filed an application for conditional use permit. When I had not heard from you, or received the initial $50,000 which was mutually agreed to, I sent an email on Thursday January 10th asking for a status update. When I still had not received a response at the close of business on Monday January 14th, I sent a second email which stated:
Please contact me to let me know when the county can expect to receive the preliminary $50,000 fee for the Nuclear Power plant conditional use permit application. I conferred with Fred on this today, and he is also of the opinion that this is what was agreed to at our December 13th meeting. After my initial email which is attached below, Mr. Pecchenino called and informed me that he had forwarded it on to both Mr. Gillispie and Mr. McConnaughey and was waiting on their response. Additionally, he stated that he was not aware that this is what had been agreed to. If there is any confusion, please let me know so that we can get this cleared up quickly. If there is not any confusion, please remit to:
Owyhee County Planning and Zoning
PO Box 128
Murphy, Id. 83650
I never received a response to that email and did not received payment of any fees. This letter serves as a third request for the negotiated $50,000 to be submitted to Owyhee County so that the taxpayers are not left paying the bill for all of time and expense invested in this project both since the date of application which was over six months ago, and going forward.
As stated in my January 14th email, if there is any confusion as to what was agreed to at the December 13th meeting please contact me so that any issues can be cleared up as quickly as possible.