April 7, 2010
CONTACT: Snake River Alliance
Andrea Shipley, executive director
208-344-9161 (w); 208-514-8713 (c)

Elmore County Comp Plan Decision Still a Red Light for AEHI

Mountain Home, ID: On March 24, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing to take comments on proposed language that would amend the county’s comprehensive plan to allow heavy industry to locate in areas other than the Simco Road district of the county. The commission voted 4-2 to amend the comprehensive plan to allow for further heavy industry. That recommendation will now go before the County Commission. The Board of Commissioners can accept or reject that recommendation, hold additional hearings, or adjust the proposed language.

The hearing was initiated by the County Commission as a result of issues that arose during a land rezone process for Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. who wants to build a nuclear power reactor in Idaho. The amendment language was not tied to any specific application and the proposed language potentially makes it harder for AEHI to build their facility. While AEHI representatives were noticeably absent at the March 24 hearing, several members of the community turned out to testify in favor of language that would prohibit the siting of heavy industrial facilities near productive agricultural farmland – such as the prime agricultural lands above the Snake River near Hammett where AEHI wants to build its reactor.

Andrea Shipley, Executive Director of the Snake River Alliance attended the meeting and said, “If you look at the wording of the amended comprehensive plan it is clear that AEHI would still have a difficult time getting the proposed site rezoned. The new language requires any proposal to prove it will not be a ‘detriment’ to the surrounding area and that it will have ‘adequate’ access to water and infrastructure, like roads and transmission lines,” Shipley said. “Obviously radioactive waste is a detriment to fertile farmland and the water in the Snake River. Also, there are not adequate roadways or transmission lines for the proposed 1600 megawatt reactor. This decision is more a loss than a victory for AEHI.”

Although AEHI persists in taunting both Payette and Elmore counties with promises of jobs from its reactor proposal, its recently released Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) 10K annual report indicates the company is in far greater financial trouble than at any time since bringing its ill-conceived reactor scheme to Idaho in 2006.

“CEO Don Gillispie admits he spent over $120,000 of the company’s money on travel and entertainment. In the Dec 31, 2009 SEC report AEHI reported a deficit of $11,087,772 so, building a $12-$24 billion reactor anytime soon doesn’t seem very likely” Shipley explained.

While a decision on the comprehensive plan language is entertained in Elmore County, the Board of County Commissioners in Payette County will also be holding a hearing April 12 on the proposed amendment initiated by AEHI. This hearing will address missing language in Payette County’s comprehensive plan specific to the siting of power facilities—that hearing was the result of AEHI’s opponents insisting the county adequately consider the consequences of siting heavy industrial power facilities.

“We will keep watching both these processes” Shipley said. “But we are excited for the day when AEHI stops wasting valuable time and resources in Idaho’s rural communities so we can get down to the business of providing jobs and energy for Idahoans through efficiency upgrades at the local level and the siting of renewable energy projects in areas that have enormous potential for wind, biomass, solar and geothermal production.”

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. This year marks its 30th Anniversary as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for clean energy.