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Opinion roundup July 17, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, Mountain Home News, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance, Water policy, Wind energy.
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While our rezone application moves through the process at Elmore County, I thought I would post some letters to the editor and columns that have appeared lately.

Idaho Statesman, July 16, 2009
Enough delays: Approve Elmore County plant

During an Elmore County commissioners’ meeting, supporters of the nuclear power plant outnumbered opponents 5-to-1 and 1,600 petition signatures were submitted in support. Yet, after a year of hearings, the answer from commissioners was the comprehensive plan is outdated and go back to square one. Those opposing are few: a discounted far-left environmental group and a handful of Hammett farmers who support nuclear power but want it constructed in a different location. From the hearings I have attended, radio debates I’ve listened to, and discussions with both farmers and Hammett residents, their responses are loud and clear: the majority of Idahoans are in favor of the power plant and they recognize that this is our big chance to attract large companies who bring stable jobs but need more than what Idaho Power can provide them with. It’s what Idaho has been looking for and it’s what Idaho desperately needs to lead the Northwest and the United States in clean power. My plea to the commissioners is to please stop stalling by appeasing a few and start representing the majority voice. Let us help ourselves to have a brighter future by approving this power plant.

KEVIN F. AMAR, Meridian

Mountain Home News, July 15, 2009
If you want growth, nuclear power plant is viable option

Dear editor:
As I sit here on Saturday morning, June 20, 2009, I look outside my window and see Idaho’s energy future. At least the future that many near-sighted folks want us to put all our faith and trust. It is completely still with nary a whisper of wind to turn even the most efficient wind turbine and so overcast that solar power couldn’t power up an LED bulb.

Naive, I am not. I know this is not the norm for Elmore County; but to set so much reliance on wind, water and solar cannot be our standard for the future of energy for the Pacific Northwest, Western United States, or even the United States as a whole

We cannot afford any more coal powered plants — that is a given. We must invest in other means of powering our society with the electrical demands we have established. Whether for our homes, computers, cell phones, mobile phones, or even the increased future of hybrid or solely electric vehicles — we need electricity! That fact will not go away lest we make the conscious decision to revert back to the 1800s. We can do that, but mind you, it will make it very difficult to continue advances (or even sustain our current abilities) in medicine or just how we live from day to day. If we minimize production, whatever electricity we might have given to us would go first to the established leadership of our county, second to the military, third to health care and finally to Joe Average — come to think of it, it reminds me of how things were divided in Stalinist Russia.

I have heard the discussions before the P&Z, the County Commissioners, read the articles, blogs and opinions in the Mountain Home News and watched the DVD. I’ve listened to the arguments, pro and con, that take place throughout the county and I must say that the controversy over a rezone application has this whole county stymied.

I have seen how people outside of Elmore County have been brought in and have gotten deep into our business. Were they invited — yes, however; when the final decision is made, are they going to be living here to deal with the first-hand consequences of that decision? NO, they won’t!

I have lived in several areas around the United States and around the world. I have lived in areas of extreme prosperity and in utter poverty — and as a personal preference, I chose the comforts of prosperity. I heard it said at one meeting that, “…electricity is overrated.” We, in these United States, are accustomed to many hi-tech devices that we may not know how they work, it just suits our cause when and because they work. I’m not an expert, but I think it requires electricity to take such things as X-rays for proper dental work, broken bone manipulation or detailed neurological procedures. I seem to remember that farmers need electricity to run the water pumps for their irrigation lines in order to get to the point of harvest of hay, corn, wheat or potatoes. I know it is very time consuming to milk dairy cattle by hand and when you have upwards of 5,000 or 6,000 head of cattle that require two milkings per day it can be a VERY time consuming job, unless a dairy has the financial resources to employ hundreds of workers and we wish to pay $10 or more for a gallon of milk.

Since the time I arrived in Idaho in 1997, my power bill has tripled. When I arrived, I too asked the question of why isn’t wind or solar energy being harnessed. The standard response was hydro power is so cheap and plentiful.

So in 12 years, we’ve experienced drought, population growth, economic downturn and a serious lack to decisively invest into new sources of power. We are now so far behind the power curve it’s pitiful. To have known it would come to this level of disparity was unthinkable. No one could have known, but we did have the knowledge and resources available during the good years that could have made these tough times a bit more bearable, had we prepared.

I know the issues of rezone, water use, nuclear power, availability of suitable farm land all have their supporters and opponents to some degree, but the desired advancement throughout time has been this: we seek to make better, to use more efficiently, to build in a margin of safety wherever possible.

If we seek to “do it right,” I believe the co-existence of these issues is entirely possible, plausible and suitable for Elmore County.

Fears, yes, they exist because the human factor exists. But if we become so captivated by those fears that we become frozen in place rather than being motivated to exercise caution and seek safety at every turn to make it better, we can go forward with an expectation of success for everyone.

Of all the nuclear power facilities in the world — have all been failures? Have all been shut down because of fears of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? Have we not learned from the mistakes that were made of improper design? Has not the Nuclear Regulatory Commission been involved to inspect and certify plants for the public’s safety?

Our world is constantly changing. I enjoy the rural lifestyle of Elmore County and even get fed up with traffic surges that happen twice daily throughout the workweek. But change required stoplights to be installed, road maintenance and improvements to be accomplished; all because we are growing county and that is already a fact of life.

If we want to keep our status quo, then we need to limit our household growths to 1 or 2 children, mandated by law (I think that idea was called Zero Population Growth — back in the ’70s and ’80s; it didn’t work) — reminds me of current day China. Mountain Home has about doubled in size since the 1990s and will probably continue to grow as time goes on. This doesn’t even include the rest of southwestern Idaho, which has seen a marked growth since the mid-1990s.

Change is inevitable and with change comes new requirements. Satisfaction of those requirements must be met and for an economy that means taxes, or housing, or jobs, or transportation, or construction or a myriad of things to meet those requirements.

So what do we do? We have a company that wishes to come into Elmore County (it really didn’t matter to this company where they came in as was evidenced by the Owyhee County course of events and to know that they were invited) to take a piece of land that is not prime and to establish an enterprise on that land.

If it was prime farmland, people would be scrambling at every opportunity to obtain and farm the land. It is land that does have farmable soil and relatively good position to highway and rail support. But the slope of the landscape causes high water drainage and proximity to the Snake River, which funnels the air and causes high evaporation of the remaining moisture content greatly decreases the viable use of this parcel of land for great farming purposes.

This company proposes to level the land, build a viable enterprise, boost the economy and improve the infrastructure of Elmore County. Would they be so determined in their efforts to complete this venture unless they were serious? Fact or fiction?

If you don’t want to promote growth, provide jobs and make improvements to Elmore County, then takes these objectives out of your plans, otherwise; make the plans coincide properly with these objectives, allow the rezone, and move forward.

Roy D. Newer II

Mountain Home News, July 15, 2009
Nuclear power plnt would be a boon to local economy

Dear editor:
This past spring, I spent quite a bit of time doing community organizing work in Elmore County on the rezone for Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.’s proposed power plant. This included visiting Elmore County towns for petition signatures and showing people how they could get involved in the effort to bring well-paying jobs and clean industry to Elmore County.

It was hard work and exciting, but I wasn’t emotionally prepared for the poverty I would see going door-to-door in Glenns Ferry and Hammett. In homes, food lines, businesses and on the street, I came across hardworking people very worried about their futures and how they would keep a roof over their heads. Many were seasonal agricultural workers.

Economic development is a social justice issue. Many times, influential people who run the established order want to keep things the way they are. That’s not necessarily a bad thing especially if, like Elmore County farmers, they work hard, employ people and produce a needed product like food.

However, if the established order also includes keeping people in poverty, there is something very, very wrong with that. One way to address it is through government programs. But for people to be truly economically self-sufficient, they need family-wage jobs with benefits. A power plant with 500 direct jobs, 1,500 spin-off jobs and average wages of $80,000 is one way to do it.

There is great need: according to Census Bureau data, poverty rates in the Glenns Ferry and Hammett ZIP codes are between 17 and 21 percent, well above the 12 percent state average (http://tinyurl.com/nra2jg). Of course, there are other ways to provide these jobs and if anyone else genuinely wants to provide family-wage jobs with a new industry, I urge them to submit their plans.

Also, the industries that create these family-wage jobs are taxed at much higher industrial and commercial rates. Those taxes pay for school, fire, police, parks, libraries, planning, administration, roads and lowering the taxes of everyone else. Currently, agricultural taxes simply don’t provide this level of local government funding. A power plant should also go above and beyond tax obligations and construct public buildings, establish scholarships and run a foundation for the privilege of being in a community.

It’s sad to hear people say, “The nuclear plant won’t hire Elmore people,” as though Elmore residents can’t work in a security-conscious, technically-oriented setting. I think Elmore residents are among the best qualified for nuclear plant jobs, because many are veterans or used to work at Mountain Home Air Force Base. A nuclear plant has many military aspects, including extreme security consciousness; a highly trained, armed security force; and strong safety culture.

Most jobs at a nuclear plant don’t require a college degree and some don’t require high levels of training: foodservice, janitors, landscaping and materials handling. Other jobs need training ranging from certification to advanced college degrees: mechanics, security officers, technicians, office workers, pipefitters, attorneys, managers, electricians or nuclear physicists. We believe Elmore residents already qualify for the vast majority of these jobs. We hope bright Elmore County youths will be able to return home and work at our plant or spin-off industries. In addition, the plentiful power from a nuclear plant will attract other industry.

Best of all, agriculture can continue as it always has, although wages for ag jobs may rise in a competitive job market. Our nuclear plant would occupy just 200 acres. As is common with nuclear plants, the land around ours will continue to be farmed and create a security buffer. Interestingly, the American Farm Bureau calls for increased use of nuclear power (http://tinyurl.com/kokgnq).

Environmental groups normally align themselves with social justice causes. But in this case, some are working alongside a few Hammett-area farmers to, in effect, keep struggling people from accessing better-paid jobs and opportunity. In this clash of principles, the struggling families of Elmore County have been on the losing side.

The environmental groups might say “We’re not against family-wage jobs, but a nuclear plant isn’t the way to do it.” To which I respond: If you cared to ask the struggling families of Elmore County what they think and want, you might not be so eager to tell them no.

Martin Johncox,

Boise

(Editor’s note: Johncox handles public relations for AEHI).

About Elmore County's Comprehensive Plan June 9, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, nuclear industry, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Solar energy, Wind energy.
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(We submitted this opinion to the Mountain Home News today for publication tomorrow.)

The Elmore County Commission said some surprising things Monday. Since they can’t hear any more testimony, it is likely my words won’t make it to them. But it would be helpful, whether or not this project succeeds, to clarify a few things.

The Commissioners correctly pointed out on several occasions the comprehensive plan appears to conflict with itself. That is to be expected in a complex effort like land use planning, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As I will talk about, our rezone proposal actually does conform to the comprehensive plan because our development would provide steady, well-paying jobs; will greatly improve the local tax base; won’t threaten the rural way of life so important to Elmore County residents; and we have addressed concerns about possible future misuse of the land.

The Commission asked their attorney for an opinion as to whether or not they can restrict future uses of the land. The Commissioners are concerned that if they rezone the land for industrial use and the nuclear plant isn’t developed, the landowner could apply to build some undesirable use and the commission would have little ability to stop it.

This is a reasonable concern. However, we addressed it early on in the process. Along with our application, we submitted a development agreement. The agreement makes clear that if we do not build a nuclear power plant on the land, then it must revert to agricultural zoning.

Elected officials are understandably reluctant to deviate from their comprehensive plans. However, they also know there will come times to make reasonable exceptions. We believe this is such a time. The current comprehensive plan, however well-intentioned, did not foresee the possibility of an ambitious and economically significant proposal such as ours, the most expensive single piece of private infrastructure ever proposed for Idaho.

The designated industrial location, Simco Road, has very little water; a 20-mile-long pipe would need to be constructed, presenting insurmountable safety and right-of-way concerns. The site has geologic issues that also make it difficult to site a nuclear plant there. Interestingly, much more intrusive uses, such as industrial wind farms and natural gas plants, may be located anywhere in the county without a heavy industrial designation. This is especially puzzling, as a nuclear plant emits no smoke, noise, dust or odors and takes up very little space.

Another commissioner said the people of Hammett have spoken overwhelmingly against the rezone. While many Hammett-area farmers spoke as individuals (and included their feelings again as members of a group), that is by no means representative of Hammett the town, where many of the workers on these farms actually live.

Of the 1,600 signatures we gathered in favor of the rezone (half from Elmore County), we estimate at least 50 came from in and around Hammett, where our community organizing efforts found people, many of them agricultural workers, desperate for stable, well-paying jobs. These figures suggest national polls about nuclear power, which routinely show 70%-plus support.

One of the commissioners’ least enviable jobs is to balance competing interests, each of them important. Should they (as our opponents say) approve an industry that would destroy the rural way of life? Or should they adopt a clean, stable source of energy and the jobs that go with it? Unfortunately, our opponents have presented this as an either-or choice when, in fact, it is not. In terms of being an industrial use, we will no more impose upon Elmore County’s rural way of life than a cheese plant or an air force base (which we whole heartedly support as a veteran run organization).

If the farmers could demonstrate the plant we propose would harm their way of life, they might have a case for keeping hundreds of their fellow county residents from holding power plant jobs. As it stands, however, nuclear plants are excellent neighbors. Of the 1,300 acres proposed in our rezone, about 200 would be for the actual plant. The remaining land would consist of ponds and farms, as is common in the predominantly rural settings where nuclear plants are located. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, it costs 1.8 cents to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity with nuclear power, and that power is produced more than 90 percent of the time (http://tinyurl.com/2pgc8k). That’s a significant benefit to farmers

Indeed, Elmore County farms have for decades abutted extremely intensive heavy-industrial uses with no problems. I’m speaking of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Despite the general mistrust of government in our society, the Air Force Base has been a good neighbor and is a pillar of the region’s economy. Safe to say, MHAFB would have a hard time fitting in the Simco Road location.

One commissioner also expressed concern about how construction would affect local services. Any sort of significant project will certainly impose some burdens and we have suggested ways to address them. Ideas include paying money directly to the county to reduce the bill for all taxpayers as compensation for disruption; job training; a community center; scholarships; direct infrastructure funding; and a committee to oversee service needs (for details, see my open letter to the people of Hammett on my blog at www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com). Not to mention, these burdens would pale in comparison to the benefits specified in the next paragraph.

Current farms in Elmore County produce 2.86 jobs (some seasonal) per acre, or about 4 jobs at the current location. Our plant would produce 500-year round jobs at the site and 5,000 peak jobs per year during construction; $558 million in local payroll and labor income; and $205 million in local ripple payroll income. The plant would also create an additional 1,754 full-time support jobs and massive improvements in schools, police, fire and other infrastructure funding.

The irony isn’t lost on me that the commission these days is also holding meetings on how to deal with a pressing budget crisis. Our proposal would start putting people to work immediately and increase the economic security for the all residents of Elmore County.

One of the Commissioners made another important statement. If Elmore County residents – and presumably the Snake River Alliance – wish to see farmland kept undeveloped, they should probably consider forming a land trust or other legal vehicle to accomplish it. To restrict private property rights for that reason is not a wise use of power.

Things are going well for AEHI. Last week, we signed an agreement with Source Capital Group Inc. to raise money for the project. The funds will cover land, water rights and engineering services to obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval to construct and operate an advanced nuclear plant in Elmore County, Idaho, estimated to total some $70 million. Every company that has undertaken the NRC application process has successfully completed it and received a construction/operation license.

We see a bright future for Elmore County, one that many communities in America share. It is a future of economic security and low-cost energy, with a nuclear plant quietly, cleanly and dependably powering its farms, homes and businesses. We hope the Elmore County Commission votes for this future and approves our rezone.

Snake River Alliance does Idaho no favors June 3, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, anti-renewable energy, economic benefits, Greenfield nuclear development, Mountain Home News, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance.
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[We submitted this opinion to the Mountain Home news last month but space constraints kept it from being published.]

Democracy gives people a lot of latitude in how to get something done, or to stop it from being done. The events over the last few weeks have been really useful in showing how we and the Snake River Alliance differ on those counts. Heat doesn’t substitute for light and even a group as prickly as the Snake River Alliance should know that a civil tone will help public discussion of important issues like energy.

Our efforts to prepare for the April 20 rezone hearing were aboveboard and successful. We launched a public information campaign to let people know about our table to collect resumes and letters of interest and around 500 showed up and wore stickers supporting AEHI. I spoke at clubs, groups, associations, business and anywhere else people would have me, and not all of these venues were friendly.

We collected 1,600 signatures through much hard work going door-to-door, going to food lines, going to workplaces, going to places the SRA wouldn’t bother going. We produced an informational video and mailed it to each household in Elmore County. We sent a letter to every resident of Hammett to address their specific concerns. We launched a traditional advertising campaign and used the new tools of social media to get the word out.

In contrast, the Snake River Alliance prepared for the rezone hearing with bizarre and unethical gimmicks. A week or so before the hearing, the SRA complained to the Glenns Ferry Police Department that I shoved SRA employee Liz Woodruff at a March 10 Glenns Ferry City Council meeting – in a room full of the public, city officials and police officers, no less! The authorities did their duty and, after interviewing me and other people, found the accusation without merit. Clearly, the SRA was fishing for an “October surprise” a week before the rezone hearing, hoping to smear my reputation and throw the meeting into disarray.

These shenanigans have no place in public policy. It probably didn’t help the SRA that Mrs. Woodruff on March 24 publicly apologized to the Glenns Ferry City Council for her childish behavior at that March 10 council meeting, where she sought to disrupt my presentation.

All this is relevant because it speaks to the SRA’s involvement in the public process. As hard as they try to keep a veneer of civility, they openly and behind-the-scenes do what they can do disrupt the local process. Apparently, they were able to restrain themselves more or less for the rezone hearing, but they and their supporters formed “groups” to get more speaking time. Then, individual members of the “groups” spoke, violating the principle the county established for recognizing groups .

Clearly, the SRA does best when surrounded by supporters and friends, but their thin-skinned nature leads them to do some strange things. For example, sometimes the SRA seems immune to common sense. To emphasize that nuclear plants are a good fit with rural areas, we showed pictures of cows grazing a stone’s throw from nuclear plants and Andrea Shipley’s response was to say “the property at issue is not grazed by cows” (actually, cows graze the only adjacent private land). As the SRA well knows, our plant would take up around 200 acres, with the remainder of the 1,300 acre parcel to remain farmland.

To say our plant would “upend surrounding ag uses” is preposterous. For the real story on how our plant would affect the area, see my open letter to the citizens of Hammett at http://www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com. There are plenty of photos of nuclear plants surrounded by hayfields, wildlife habitat, estuaries and near small towns (yes, we’re well aware there are no estuaries in Elmore County).

In the face of our campaign, the SRA says the jobs will never materialize – but the SRA is working as hard as it can to stop the jobs from ever materializing. We’ve already put 100 Idahoans to work and as long as investors continue to fund us, that’s their concern, not the SRA’s. They say we haven’t finalized enough details about our plant, but you know if we had every detail plotted out they’d complain we were being presumptuous. At this stage, we are simply seeking to rezone the land, yet they chide us for not having each and every aspect of our plant finalized.

Speaking of our business, Ms. Shipley breathlessly states the obvious in quoting our SEC report, which says “AEHI has limited funds and such funds will not be adequate to carry out the business plan without borrowing significant funds. The ultimate success of AEHI may depend upon its ability to raise additional capital … and it could fail.” OK, so we openly admit don’t have enough money to build a nuclear reactor and need more investment to build it. So? Utilities, developers, companies and anyone else building anything must seek investment capital as well.

Ms. Shipley is either uneducated about start-up public companies, or she is seeking to misrepresent our funding picture. We are the only publicly owned company in the nation seeking to build an independent nuclear power plant; traditional utilities, for whatever reasons, haven’t constructed enough power plants and we are stepping up to meet the demand. Like any other start-up, we seek investment for what we propose. If we get it, we may succeed, and if we don’t, we fail. Anyone who has run a business, or who is not terribly out-of-touch with business, understands that.

The Snake River Alliance’s contempt for working people is evident in its own site, as well as those of supporters. Among the drawbacks of our plant, according to the SRA’s Jan. 9 news release, would be “thousands of construction workers” in Elmore County (http://tinyurl.com/qxgnm9). I guess if someone has a problem with construction workers, that would be a concern, but to people who are willing to work hard and get something built, it’s an insult. Or, this gem from http://tinyurl.com/p43rar, refers this way to people who came to our table: “To what degree will these curbside applicants feel like darned fools?”

If this is the best the Snake River Alliance can offer, it has grossly underestimated our tenacity, the depth of our support and the necessity of our enterprise.

Ms. Shipley claimed I am “obsessed with counting stickers” but that is the closest she comes to acknowledging the truth: People at the meeting were overwhelmingly supportive of the rezone and the SRA’s vaunted community organizing efforts didn’t produce much in that regard. The best Ms. Shipley can do is to discount our efforts to create jobs and say the jobs won’t come soon enough, or at all, or they won’t be for Elmore residents – while simultaneously doing all she can to stop the jobs from ever coming. Tactically, the SRA was out-hustled, but that in itself means nothing as the ultimate measure of success lies with the Elmore County Commission.

Most valuable are the resumes of hundreds of highly qualified, hardworking Idahoans we collected and hope to call on as soon as we can. They and thousands of other supporters hope we prevail over the SRA and its newfound allies.

Anti-nukes use another two-faced approach when they say nuclear power shouldn’t be pursued because we have no place to store or reprocess the waste, but then they work against storage and reprocessing solutions. It’s worth pointing out Areva is planning for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the US (http://tinyurl.com/pwfblo). The firm recently shared with bloggers its conceptual thinking about a 800 ton/year plant which it says is the answer to apparent end of the Yucca Mountain repository project.

Given the traditional antagonism between environmental groups like the SRA and agriculture, it is not surprising Ms. Shipley is out of touch with ag issues. News alert for Ms. Shipley: Farming in Idaho is largely constrained by the high cost of water, because pumping that water is becoming increasingly expensive. Irrigators currently pay close to 4 cents per kilowatt hour, but Idaho Power is asking for an 11.1 percent increase in that rate. Many farmers spend thousands of dollars a month on power costs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, it costs 1.8 cents to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity with nuclear power, and that power is produced more than 90 percent of the time (http://tinyurl.com/2pgc8k).

This kind of reliable low-cost power is exactly what high-lift irrigators and other farmers need to stay economically competitive. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind costs around 5 cents per kilowatt hour (http://tinyurl.com/kyg8u) with federal subsidies – when it’s blowing, which is around 20 percent of the time on average. Ms. Shipley should know business can’t operate under those power terms; we only make it work by importing half our energy for out-of-state coal plants.

It strains belief that Ms. Shipley would claim “Idaho is not out of power … Idaho has ample electricity resources.” Perhaps she should tell that laughable claim to the two major employers who bypassed southern Idaho in 2007 because Idaho Power couldn’t provide electricity! Surely, she is just as disappointed as the rest of us about the loss of those jobs.

The fact that Idaho imports half its energy is proof enough that we need to develop our own dispatchable baseload resources in-state. It’s no secret that Idaho Power hasn’t developed a base-load power plant in Idaho in at least 30 years, choosing instead buying shares in out-of-state coal plants. I really can’t blame them; after getting a taste of the difficulty in developing a power plant, I can see why Idaho Power has evidently given up on new baseload power in Idaho.

That brings me to my next point, which is that energy developers of all kinds are facing a harder time getting anything built, and no advocacy groups are stepping forward to support them. As you read this, dozens of rural landowners want to “curb enthusiasm for” and ultimately kill plans to plant wind turbines and string a green-field power line segment across the northern Laramie Range in Wyoming (http://tinyurl.com/polydc). The Northern Laramie Range Alliance is fighting wind energy, which the Snake River Alliance points to as the future of energy generation.

Something tells me the Snake River Alliance and its allies won’t be showing up to help these wind power developers – or anyone who’s trying to build a power plant.

"Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing" April 29, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Mountain Home News, Politics and nuclear, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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The Mountain Home News was kind enough to publish this letter today. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Commission praised for patience during nuke hearing

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dear editor:

We applaud the patience of the Elmore County Commission in dealing with a very controversial issue at last week’s hearing. Throughout the over four hours of testimony from both sides, the commissioners heard and saw plenty of information.

In our view, the hundreds of supporters who showed up to support jobs, clean low-cost energy, agriculture and economic growth carried the day. Testimony on our behalf was passionate, including former planning and zoning commissioners who supported our application. Farmers, large landowners, the local farm bureau, shopkeepers and average citizens all told the commission that Elmore County needs stable jobs and that rezoning our land would serve the best interests of Elmore County. We have also submitted 1,600 Idaho signatures in support of the rezone, half of them from Elmore County residents.

We know some 500 people showed up at various stages of the four-hour meeting to support us. We handed out 475 green “AEHI supporter” stickers to people and we counted about 400 of those stickers over the course of the evening (people showed up shortly after 4 p.m. to our table and were coming until after 7 p.m.). There were also many supporters who had to stand in the back and behind the boundary wall who requested stickers, but we had run out. By contrast, we counted fewer than 100 people wearing stickers opposing us throughout the entire evening. Also, fewer than 10 percent of the AEHI supporters spoke. In contrast, over a third of the opposition spoke, but many were from the same organization. Their organizations were given 10 minutes of speaking time, and then in violation of the rules individual members of the organization also spoke giving the misleading appearance of an equal number for and against.

We expect people to oppose us, but the opposition sometimes resorted to strange arguments. I’m sure some of you have been in the position where you tell someone something, they give you a blank stare and act as though they didn’t hear a word you just said. That’s how we often felt at last week’s public hearing on our rezone.

Opponents largely ignored information presented by AEHI staff and our supporters. We showed pictures of nuclear plants with farm fields and grazing cows just a stone’s throw from reactor buildings, to prove that nuclear plants are very compatible with surrounding ag land uses. We repeated that our plant would occupy just 200 of the 1,300 acres in the rezone, with most of the rest of the land devoted to farming. We made it clear our site won’t have any of those large cooling towers. We stated we’ve already spent $8 million and put 100 Idahoans to work on our effort. We made it clear that many acres of good land could be farmed but aren’t due to the high cost of water. We specified nuclear plants emit no smoke, dust, noise or odors and do not generate large amounts of traffic in operation. We made it clear we’d use a low-water design for our plant and rely on existing water rights, not impinging on existing water holders in any way. We made it clear jobs would start soon after the rezone and Conditional Use Permit approval and ramp up to several thousand during the construction phase.

We also clarified that most jobs at our plant won’t require a college degree, just specialized training that we can provide.

In response, people made some amazing claims, suggesting we could put a dump or tire-burning plant on the site. Another gentleman worried about terrorists using advanced radar weaponry to induce earthquakes to destroy reactors and cities. They insisted our plant would destroy their rural setting, even when the reality of nuclear plants shows they are good neighbors and take up little room. Some kept referring to the land as “their farmland” and that they wanted to farm it, so it should be kept as-is for their benefit (whatever happened to private property rights? And why has the land been sold several times as recently as 2007, but no one from Elmore County purchased it?). They also said farmland is disappearing; having grown up on a farm myself, this is a strong appeal to make. However, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture, “nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002.” Elmore County farm statistics, obtained from the county extension office, show farms in the county also increased between 2002 and 2007, from 364 to 381. While Idaho agriculture is robust, we know farmland figures could increase substantially if our power plant is built, as many acres cannot be irrigated due to lack of low-cost power for irrigation pumps.

Most surprisingly, several opponents said the jobs won’t materialize because the plant won’t be built — then proceeded to argue against the rezone so the plant could not be built!

The Snake River Alliance is a master of these both-sides-of-the-fence arguments. On one hand, the SRA says our reactor can’t be built for a mountain of reasons — but if they really believe that, why are they spending their time opposing us? Their preoccupation with our project is unintended but welcome testimony that we are fully capable of building this plant and have an excellent shot at success, even given the current financial markets.

For someone to build a commercial nuclear plant in Idaho on their watch would pretty much verify the SRA has lost relevance and is out of touch with modern environmental thinking, even more so than the successful Areva and Idaho National Laboratory expansions demonstrate.

So, this really is about jobs: theirs (about 10) versus ours (about 5,000, with salaries much higher). It’s also stunning the Snake River Alliance would say it’s concerned about jobs and agriculture in Elmore County, when it has advocated the closure of Mountain Home Air Force Base and supported restricting water supplies to farmers to protect the Bruneau Snail. I am frankly surprised at their alliance with the Hammett-area farmers. I guess the saying “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” holds, even uniting former enemies who haven’t considered the consequences. What will these farmers do when the newly empowered SRA resumes advocacy of cutting their water rights to protect a snail or return farmland to its original “pristine condition”?

Despite all the misinformation, the people who made the loudest statement last week were our hundreds of supporters. Sadly, the SRA and opposition websites (which don’t allow comment) discount and mock the people who are eager and willing to get to work building and running a reactor.

Our opponents concern themselves with obstructing and stopping, not building and creating. No matter how this is resolved, we have made a very clear statement that Elmore County’s (and Idaho’s) baseload energy supply and economic development are pressing issues – and neither the Snake River Alliance nor their supporters have any plan to address them.

For more information on the rezone and our intentions, please go to www.alternateenergholdings.com or www.cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com.

Don Gillispie

President and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

We're looking for qualified people for our nuclear plant March 26, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance.
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Below is a news release we sent last week regarding our taking resumes and letters of interest from people about jobs. Jennie sums things up pretty well, so I won’t say any more.

Elmore nuclear plant company to accept resumes April 22
Approval of the project will require thousands of trained workers of all skills

March 16, 2009
For more information, contact: Jennie Ransom, AEHI spokeswoman 208-939-9311
Martin Johncox, 208-658-9100

Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., the Eagle company developing a nuclear power plant in Elmore County, will be accepting resumes and letters of interest from people on April 22 in front of Mountain Home Junior High School beginning at 5 p.m.

“I get ten letters a week, unsolicited, for people who want to work for our company,” said company spokeswoman Jennie Ransom. “When the time comes to build this plant, we are going to need to call on thousands of skilled local people, so I figured we might as well start collecting resumes.”

Ransom and other AEHI volunteers will staff a table to accept resumes and letters of interest. People who submit a resume will be encouraged to attend the Elmore County Commission meeting in the adjacent junior high school auditorium and show their support for the proposal to construct a large advanced nuclear reactor in Elmore County.

“The commission needs to hear from Elmore County residents and Idahoans in general that our plant should be a priority for economic development,” Ransom said. “The Treasure Valley has had to turn away major employers because of lack of energy. The plant would directly put people to work and allow other industries to come.”

The company plans to hire locally and from Idaho as much as possible. Idaho State University can supply many employees trained in nuclear technology, while the large number of ex-military in Elmore County would be ideal for security and operations jobs. Other Idahoans are skilled in management, construction, maintenance and office work, Ransom said.

“These are stable, family-wage jobs that cannot be sent overseas,” Ransom said, pointing to recent news coverage showing Idaho is the third most-stressed state economically. “The average wage in the nuclear industry is $80,000 a year and these jobs provide a great sense of accomplishment.”

Ransom said the company is interested in letters of interest and resumes from people in the following jobs:

Administration – human resources, secretaries, admin assistants, clerks, managers
Attorneys
Auxiliary operator
Boilermakers, pipefitters, plumbers
Buyers
Chemists andchemistry technicians
Construction workers
Electricians
Engineers – nuclear, civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial
Engineering technicians
Environmental compliance professionals
Facilities maintenance personnel – mechanics, instrumentation, HVAC, diesel, electrical.
Food service workers
Information tech specialists
Janitors
Laboratory technicians
Landscapers
Parts specialists
Radiation technicians
Reactor Operator
Receptionists
Security personnel – ex-military and Guard
Warehouse staff

The nuclear industry is very selective, however. Plant workers need high security clearances and must pass background checks and psychological tests. Ransom said the high number of former and current military personnel in Elmore County make it an ideal place for finding prospective employees.

AEHI’s 2007 economic study found the plant would grow employment in Elmore and Owyhee counties by 25 percent and generate 4,230 jobs statewide during construction, including a total annual payroll impact of $839 million – nearly 2 percent of the payroll in Idaho. It would also generate 1,004 annual jobs statewide during operation (estimated 60 years or more) with an annual statewide payroll impact of $57 million. It would also pay average annual wages of $80,000 to plant employees (267 percent of Idaho average) and pay would be $33,536 (112 percent of Idaho average) in industries indirectly affected (2006 dollars). Total annual labor income impacts in Owyhee and Elmore counties during operation would be $52.3 million.

Ransom said she was shocked at a Jan. 9 news release by an opposition group warning that one of the drawbacks of the plant would be “thousands of construction workers.”

“There might already be hundreds, if not thousands, of construction workers in Elmore County, and the only difference is that they’re unemployed and looking for jobs,” Ransom said. “Until our opponents come up with a plan to put people to work, it sounds elitist and out-of-touch for them to complain about construction workers getting jobs in Elmore County or anywhere else. The lack of jobs and tax revenue is already straining county services.”

Unemployment in the Elmore County has reached 7 percent, which is high for a place with a normally robust economy. Loss of jobs thousands of jobs at Micron, the closing of a potato processing plant, a poor Christmas season and fewer car sales are behind much of the unemployment. On March 7, the Idaho Statesman reported the Idaho jobless rate is at a 21-year high of nearly 7 percent, with some 53,000 unemployed; the state is expecting a 12 percent drop in tax revenue. Economists say joblessness will continue to rise nationally for the rest of the year and into early 2010, with the unemployment rate reaching 9 to 10 percent before it turns around.

Ransom said it could be a few years before large numbers of jobs commence at the AEHI plant, as AEHI must first obtain approval. Delays caused by the opposition, if any, will extend the construction start time.

However, even with no new plants under construction, the nuclear industry is already putting people to work. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, “nuclear energy is one of the few bright spots in the US economy – expanding rather than contracting.” An NEI report says the prospect of new plant construction in has already stimulated considerable investment and job creation among companies that supply the nuclear industry: “Over the last several years, the nuclear industry has invested over $4 billion in new nuclear plant development, and plans to invest approximately $8 billion in the next several years to be in a position to start construction in 2011-2012.”

In the course of this, NEI said, “private investment in new nuclear power plants has created an estimated 14,000-15,000 jobs.” The number of new jobs “will expand dramatically after 2011 when the first wave of these new nuclear projects starts construction.”

Rhetorical meltdown February 21, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, anti-renewable energy, approval process, Elmore County, Energy policy, environmentalists, Idaho leadership, Mountain Home News, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, President Obama, Snake River Alliance, Steven Chu.
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It’s been a rough few months for the Snake River Alliance, and it shows in the shrill and over-the-top rhetoric of their news releases. I suppose it’s for the best they don’t blog and have removed from their Web site the ability for public comment.

Among the setbacks to the SRA: a pro-nuclear president and energy secretary are now in office; the SRA had to admit they were clueless when they stooped to calling us criminals; the state of Idaho has reshuffled its renewable energy priorities to better conform to reality; AREVA is moving forward with a uranium processing facility in Idaho; and the SRA has bailed on at least one public hearing to support embattled wind farm developers.

Apparently, the SRA is engaging in some fundraising by continuing its attempts to vilify us. Their latest news release, regarding our status as a fully reporting company before the SEC, is laughable to anyone with an understanding of business.

To clear up the SRA’s untruths:

• We were “four months late” filing our registration statements (on Feb. 19, we reported the SEC has accepted our registration statement, qualifying us to be a fully reporting company, conduct audits and file required financial reports for current and potential investors). This is nonsense. You can’t be late on a registration statement because there is no requirement to be fully reporting. It is a choice that public companies make to be more open.

• We didn’t disclose any lawsuits in filing our registration statement (at the time, we had a pending lawsuit against the SRA for defamation). You are only required to disclose lawsuits against your company, not lawsuits you have filed against others. Anyone who has been through this process knows that.

I failed to appear at the Legislature when invited. Very wrong. I have been invited twice to appear before an interim committee on energy (not the Legislature) and appeared both times. I testified once and the second time, the meeting ran an hour over and I had to leave to another meeting; I later emailed my remarks to the committee. The SRA knows this but conveniently forgets to mention it.

We “lost” the defamation lawsuit. After Andrea Shipley admitted she had no factual basis for calling us “scammers,” we did not object to their motion to dismiss the suit. Shipley’s critiques “generally represent the highly subjective opinions of the [speaker] rather than assertions of verifiable, objective fact,” according to the SRA court filing. Her admission that she had no factual basis for her statements is a retraction and that pleases us.

• We were late in paying a $50,000 bill to Owyhee County. We had originally proposed to build our plant in Owyhee County and the filing fee was $1,000 and we offered to pay $50,000 because of the exceptional nature of our application. We asked Owyhee County for a written bill, which we need for accountability purposes. The Mountain Home News on Oct. 8 quoted Commissioner Dick Freund: “Once notified in writing, they paid up almost immediately.”

We invite the SRA to be as open as we are and post a link to their financial statements – heck, maybe even start blogging, allow public comment and join the rest of us. The SRA’s distortions of facts and fulminations don’t substitute for a discussion of Idaho’s or America’s energy future.

Snake River Alliance backs out of defamatory statements January 27, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, environmentalists, Snake River Alliance.
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The Snake River Alliance has retracted a statement calling my company “scammers,” with the Alliance saying their statement wasn’t “factual” but merely their opinion.

On Aug. 11, 2008, Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley appeared on a television news broadcast and claimed AEHI representatives were criminals, calling the company “scammers.” AEHI sued the SRA for defamation, as no one in the company has been accused of charged with any criminal behavior. In response, the Alliance filed a motion to dismiss the defamation suit, instead saying their statements were offered as opinion, not fact, and were therefore protected under the First Amendment. In light of the SRA’s admission that their statements were not factual, we did not oppose the dismissal.

In their dismissal, the SRA admitted their statements were not factual, but just their opinion, which they could have done long ago. The SRA is known for over-the-top rhetoric and they came very, very close to crossing the line between protected speech and defamation; only by later retracting the factualness of their statement did they stay within the law and they now should think twice about the words they use.

Environmentalists continue fight against renewable energy January 6, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, anti-renewable energy, balanced approach, Energy policy, environmentalists, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance, Solar energy, Wind energy.
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Normally, the media are very starry-eyed when reporting on renewable energy. When it comes to coverage of nuclear power, the media are extremely skeptical and ask the tough questions (as all good journalists should), but renewable get a pass and questions about reliability, viability, environmental impact and public support are rarely raised.

That’s not the case in last week’s Idaho Statesman and kudos to Rocky Barker for taking a realistic look at renewable energy. He writes, “Greener energy sources such as geothermal wells and sprawling wind farms are being touted as the nation’s environmentally friendly answer to energy independence, but so far, alternative energy developers are finding that they face many of the same conflicts as traditional generation plants.”

Among other projects, Barker looked at “the most controversial wind farm in the state,” the proposed China Mountain project, a 185-turbine farm in Twin Falls County. The project, on 30,000 acres of public land, would produce more than 400 megawatts of electricity (by comparison, our plant would produce four times that amount of energy on four percent of the area, and at 95 percent reliability, compared to around 20 for wind). Environmentalists have opposed wind farms nationwide, not just Idaho.

As Barker reports, in July, a regional Fish and Game supervisor voiced concerns about the effects the wind farm could have on wildlife, including the endangered sage grouse. Neighbors complained about the effect the wind farm would have on the views from their cabins and Advocates of the West, a group that provides lawyers for environmental groups, is preparing to challenge several wind projects planned in sagebrush habitat.

July 1, 2008, was a good example of where the priorities of some environmentalist lie. The embattled China Mountain wind farm was facing a crucial public hearing, but it was the same night as a meeting to organize opposition to our nuclear plant. When push came to shove, “We were not present at the China Mountain scoping meeting because it occurred the same night as our public meeting about the AEHI plant.” Liz Woodruff, SRA energy policy analyst, said the SRA “submitted comments regarding the proposal” but tellingly doesn’t say if they actually supported China Mountain or urged officials to approve it. The Snake River Alliance’s own mission statement declares that it can oppose specific facilities, but advocating for specific facilities isn’t part of the mission (at least give the SRA credit for sticking to its real game plan).

I think the radical environmentalist veneer is starting to fall. Something tells me the SRA didn’t try to “educate and inform” residents opposed to China Mountain, as they have done to rally opposition to our plant. Personally, I think the SRA lacks the stomach to face an angry group of neighbors and declare that a wind farm should be approved because it’s in the broader public interest. If the Snake River Alliance is out there directly supporting specific renewable facilities in public hearings, they’re doing a good job keeping it quiet.

Some environmentalists take opposition to renewable a step further. Laird Lucas, lead attorney for Advocates of the West, says he’s “skeptical that wind, solar and geothermal plants spread out across the wide open spaces of the West and linked to populated areas through vast transmissions systems are the answer to increasing carbon-free energy supplies,” according to Barker’s story.

“I think there’s a chance that these big solar farms and wind farms will be obsolete almost as soon as we develop them,” Lucas says in the story. “We need to somehow get people engaged directly in producing our own energy.”

I think some environmentalists are really aiming for a larger target and their ultimate goal is to “power down” and de-industrialize our society. I’m not making any of this up – see it at http://www.postcarbon.org and similar sites, where discussion of “societal collapse” and hopeless peak oil scenarios are enough to make you end it all today. An industrial society needs industrial energy sources and combating those sources is one way to “power down” our civilization.

In the meantime, out-of-the-mainstream environmentalists will have to content themselves with paying lip service to renewable energy, by opposing it or failing to speak up for it every chance they get. I hope the media educate the public about this more.

State makes right move in shifting focus away from wind December 30, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in balanced approach, Energy policy, Idaho leadership, Politics and nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Wind energy.
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The Associated Press, with a clear bias for wind energy, reports that Gov. Otter has disbanded the Idaho Wind Power Working Group, the state’s wind promotion think tank, and reassigned its staff member to work on energy efficiency instead. The Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, a panel Otter created to plan for the state’s energy needs, will assume some of the working group’s functions. Energy office director Paul Kjellander said he made the changes to better coordinate renewable energy development, including biogas from dairies, solar and geothermal, under Otter’s new alliance.

This is a very wise move on the part of the state government. Before I am pegged as being anti-wind, one of AEHI’s subsidiaries, Energy Neutral, works to put wind, solar and other renewable into new and existing homes and businesses, so I understand the potential and proper place for wind energy.

As far as a statewide policy for Idaho, energy efficiency is a better goal than wind promotion. Wind is a niche power source at best and the real energy issue in Idaho is no base load plants have been built in 30 years. The Associated Press, the Snake River Alliance and other wind promoters like to say Idaho ranks 13th among states for wind power potential. That figure comes from the American Wind Energy Association which obviously has in interest in promoting wind development.

A rank of 13 is actually misleading, because wind potential, like fossil fuels, geothermal, hydro or solar power potential, is a gift that nature does not share equally. Taking a look at the wind potential map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory below, we can see that only a few areas nationally reach Class 3, the minimum required for utility-scale power generation, and 95 percent of Idaho ranks as Class 1 or 2; indeed, most of the U.S. ranks as Class 1 or below. Only in the very center of the nation – from about North Dakota to straight down to northern Texas – are there large contiguous areas necessary for large-scale industrial wind production.

Idaho has few areas suitable for utility-scale wind production

Idaho has few areas suitable for utility-scale wind production

According to the NREL, “Areas designated Class 3 or greater are suitable for most utility-scale wind turbine applications, whereas class 2 areas are marginal for utility-scale applications but may be suitable for rural applications.”

The 50-meter wind resource map below presents the same information a bit differently, showing wind speed estimates at 50 meters above the ground and depicting the resource that could be used for utility-scale wind development. Of the developable areas in Idaho, most are fair-to-marginal for utility-scale generation.

irwm-1

Still, savvy wind developers are finding and harnessing Idaho’s wind potential and I wish them the best of luck. We can and should be developing every green energy source at our disposal.

These maps are further evidence that Gov. Otter and Paul Kjellander made the right decision. If Idaho were one of the few states that had an abundance of utility-scale generation, then a state office dedicated to wind energy would make sense. As it stands, however, Idaho’s wind energy resources are more suitable for smaller-scale rural production, which has an important role to play in the scheme of things. But Idaho definitely doesn’t have the concentration of wind resources for any sizeable utility-scale generation.

Idaho Statesman publishes our response December 24, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, Idaho Statesman, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, reactor types, reprocessing, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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For the past 30 years, the nuclear industry has kept a low profile, producing more energy with fewer reactors and with the best safety record imaginable. The industry is now making an effort to better publicize itself and that includes responding to misinformation.

The Idaho Statesman was kind enough to print this response to a recent Sierra Club column. You can see the online version at The Statesman’s site as well as the ensuing discussion.

Jennie Ransom: Nuclear power is very much a part of our green energy future

READER’S VIEW: ENERGY
Edition Date: 12/23/08

jennifer-ransomJessica Ruehrwein’s Nov. 12 Reader’s View repeats many of the same myths about nuclear power and we must present the truth. (While we disagree with Ruehrwein, her tone is a welcome change from the trademark incivility of the Snake River Alliance.)

Anti-nuclear activists are becoming increasingly isolated. Indeed, Scott Howson, one of Ruehrwein’s colleagues and chairman of the Rappahannock Group of the Sierra Club, said, “I see a solution ultimately in nuclear energy. It’s non-polluting, and that’s what we’re all looking for.”

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Wildlife Habitat Council, African-American Environmentalist Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environmental Defense are also willing to consider nuclear as part of a solution to global warming. In this past election, both Barack Obama and John McCain supported nuclear, as did all Idaho Republican and Democrat congressional candidates. A record 74 percent of Americans favor nuclear energy, according to a September 2008 Bisconti survey.

Like many people, I used to be opposed to nuclear power, until I did my homework. There is no other source of carbon-free power that can provide the reliable, low-cost energy our nation needs to remain secure and prosperous.

Alternate Energy Holdings is proposing the Idaho Energy Complex (www.idahoenergycomplex.com), the first base-load power plant in Idaho in 30 years. In contrast to first-generation reactors that need 30 million gallons of water daily, we’ll consume as few as 100,000, thanks to a hybrid cooling design. Water will move through the facility for cooling and go to farmers, a biofuels facility and greenhouses. Our opponents know this, yet they continue repeating misinformation (see our blog at cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com).

It is true nuclear plants have high capital costs. The trade-off is that nuclear fuel is very inexpensive. A pound of uranium sells for about $45, yet a fuel pellet the size of your fingertip produces as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas or 1,780 pounds of coal.

Despite the supportive rhetoric, environmentalists routinely oppose wind farms because of their potential to decimate bird and bat populations and the large amounts of land they consume. In contrast, nuclear plants take up relatively little land, fit both urban and rural areas and the land around them typically becomes habitat. Ruehrwein also omits mention of the subsidies that all forms of energy require, including renewables.

The spent fuel from American reactors over the past 50 years could cover a football field about 15 feet deep. That’s not much when you consider nuclear provides 20 percent of our nation’s energy and 80 percent of its carbon-free energy. All this spent fuel can be reprocessed into more fuel, as in other countries, but we don’t reprocess because of environmentalist opposition.

Our opponents conveniently forget to mention the merchant wind farms and geothermal producers that are already exporting Idaho power. They join the merchant farmers, food processors and computer chip makers who bring money and provide jobs in Idaho. The IEC would generate more energy than we could consume in the current market and help capture some of the $2 billion that Idahoans send out of state for power annually.

Oddly, critics seem to have no problem with merchant renewables. And neither do we. In truth, we have much in common with opponents in our support of renewable energy. However, we – and most Americans and political leaders – know national economic and security interests demand a mainstream, inclusive approach that recognizes renewable, nuclear, natural gas and other clean and low-carbon approaches.

Given nuclear power’s contributions and stellar safety record, we believe it is extremist and closed-minded to exclude any form of energy from our nation’s future.

Jennie Ransom is vice-president of administration of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.