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An Alternate Energy view

Don Gillispie

Don Gillispie

We’ve made, on occasion or two, skeptical comments about the proposal to build a private nuclear power plant at Bruneau. Leaving aside the wisdom of the idea (which we haven’t much gotten into), we’ve simply been doubtful that it’s an idea likely to see fruition, possibly ever and almost certainly not in the next decade.

And Alternate Energy Holdings, which is aiming toward such a project, says it intends to build a good deal sooner than that. (Our take is that any private nuclear project that can get federal approvals is less than a decade from inception will have worked a miracle in modern times.)

That said, we found interesting this commentary, enclosed in an email (through a public relations firm) from Don Gillispie, the CEO of Alternate Energy. Consider it an alternative view for your Sunday reading.

Comparisons show Idaho Energy Complex a big economic boost for Idaho

The recent layoffs at Micron are troubling, but offshoring is part of today’
s global economy. To survive in this new business environment, Idaho needs
to attract businesses that can never be outsourced.

By its very nature, energy production cannot be moved. Any region that
invests in energy production will enjoy steady, well-paying jobs as long as
there’s demand. Nationally, energy use is expected to increase 30 percent by
2030, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

We are proposing a 1,600-megawatt nuclear plant in Owyhee County, the Idaho
Energy Complex (www.idahoenergycomplex.com), with 500 full-time employees
when built sometime in the next 10 years. Only nuclear provides the
reliable, low-cost, emissions-free energy needed to grow and maintain our
quality of life. The IEC could supply two-thirds of Idaho’s total energy
needs.

The economic benefits of America’s 104 nuclear plants are significant. Each
relies on skilled employees with average annual salary of $80,000. Spin-off
economic activity provides a steady flow of tax revenues.

To understand the economic impact of the IEC, we can look at studies by the
Nuclear Energy Institute (www.nei.org). Some of these plants are bigger than
the IEC and some smaller, but the figures are informative:

· Susquehanna Power Plant (Pennsylvania, 2,275 megawatts). The plant’s 2005
statewide economic impact exceeded $1.16 billion and direct and indirect
labor income was $332.8 million. This station created state and local tax
payments of $50.1 million and made $56 million in statewide purchases.
· Grand Gulf Nuclear Station (Mississippi, 1,207 megawatts). The plant’s
2005 statewide total economic impact was $537 million in 2004 and direct and
indirect labor income was $78.7 million. This station created state and
local tax payments of nearly $30 million and made $1.8 million in statewide
purchases.
· The Wolf Creek Generating Station (Kansas, 1,200 megawatts). The plant’s
total impact on the state economy was $680 million in 2003 and direct and
indirect labor income was $129.3 million. This plant created state and local
tax payments of $30 million and made $5.6 million in statewide purchases.
· Indian Point Energy Center (New York, 1,978 megawatts). The plant’s 2002
total statewide economic impact exceeded $811.7 million and the direct and
indirect labor income was $211 million. This station created state and local
tax payments of nearly $49.7 million and made $71.7 million in statewide
purchases.

While we are commissioning a professional economic study, we conservatively
estimate the IEC will provide labor income of $75 million, tax payments of
$40 million and $10 million in purchases. We also anticipate a total
statewide economic impact of $750 million, which could grow to $1 billion in
2015 dollars. We are working with Idaho State University to set up a
training program, as we want to give first chance at jobs to residents of
Owyhee County and the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes.

The IEC will have other benefits. We plan the nation’s first cogeneration
facility, using excess reactor heat to produce biofuels from local crops and
ag waste. We calculate we could produce ethanol for a dollar a gallon,
lowering the price of motor fuel in Idaho by around 13 cents a gallon.

The IEC will also provide some $50 million in credits for carbon trading.
Federal regulations are increasingly restricting how much carbon industry
can emit. Businesses that cut back on carbon, or create goods and services
without emitting carbon, are entitled to a credit, which they can sell to a
business that cannot meet carbon restrictions. As time passes, there will be
many Idaho industries that will need to purchase these credits to stay in
business.

While there will be much discussion about the environmental advantages of
nuclear, we believe it’s important to keep the economic dimension in mind –
especially in these times of uncertainty.

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