The spokesman for a firm looking to build a nuclear power plant in Payette County said atomic energy is more cost effective than conventional sources.
Don Gillispie, 66, Eagle, one of seven owners of the firm Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., said his company first began to look at Idaho as a viable place for a nuclear power plant several years ago.
Company officials reviewed Idaho and thought it was about the best, most logical place to go.
“We sat down and drew a map and put a 150-mile radius from Boise, and we went from there,” Gillispie said. “We started in Owyhee County, but the piece of land we were looking at didn’t work. We moved to Elmore County, but we were sort of forced out by some locals who don’t know much about nuclear energy and don’t want to, either. So, then Payette County.”
AEHI is not the first firm to review Payette County as a potential site for a nuclear power plant. Two years ago MidAmerican looked at Payette County as a possible site for a nuclear plant but later abandoned the concept.
Gillispie said, while very educated, MidAmerican lacked the experience in nuclear power energy.
“They hadn’t ever constructed a nuclear power plant before,” Gillispie said. “I am not saying they didn’t know what they were doing, but, they didn’t have the hands-on experience that AEHI has.”
Gillispie said the proposed plant could produce at least 5,000 jobs during its construction and about 1,000 jobs during operation. He said the tax intake, alone, will be beneficial to the county as a revenue, generating nearly $100 million in property taxes. Construction costs would be near $10 billion and will begin after land acquisition, hopefully in 2013. The plant has a 60-year life span and will essentially be more efficient and beneficial to the county than a solar or hydro-energy power plant, he said. Gillispie said the average salary for a nuclear power plant engineer is around $80,000.
Gillispie said the company currently operates eight plants in the Mid-west. He said the proposed plant is an advanced plant, and no others exist in the world like it. Gillispie said he enjoys being a good neighbor to local businesses, charities and the population in general. He said they donate their time, resources and thousands of dollars annually.
“We try to be good neighbors,” Gillispie said. “Part of this company is trying to give back to the people.”
The Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday regarding the proposed nuclear plant. If anyone would like to contact Gillispie or visit the Web site, Gillispie encourages questions, concerns and comments about the proposal. The Web site address is http://www.aehipower.com and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s been a fun ride. Sometimes it gets interesting and difficult at the meetings,” Gillispie said. “I get called names and things get said that baffle me, but I am looking forward to answering questions and concerns.”