Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Payette County approves land use for new Idaho reactor site

A zoning hearing must take place to authorize industrial uses

approvedThe Idaho Statesman reports that the Payette County, Idaho, Commissioners this week unanimously approved a change to the county’s land use plan for a 5,000 acre tract. The change will allow the parcel to be re-zoned from agricultural use to industrial use. The commission changed its comprehensive plan for the site near Big Willow Road and Stone Quarry Road. The area is near New Plymouth, Idaho.

The next step in the process will be a zoning hearing by the county planning commission. The commission will make a recommendation to the county commissioners for a decision. Getting the site approved is the first of many regulatory steps needed to build a reactor.

NRC license application scheduled for 2011?

Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. (OTC:AEHI) has notified the NRC it plans to submit a license application in 2011. The firm has not yet indicated what reactor design it plans to reference in the license application. CEO Don Gillispie has visited South Korea in an effort to ink a deal for construction of a 1,400 MW design. However, design certification in the U.S. is an unknown quantity at this time. AEHI’s claims that it will build a South Korean reactor in Idaho remain subject to the usual reality checks that are part of the nuclear industry.

Investors?

investorAlso, AEHI has yet to see results in convincing investors to support the project despite having hired three investment banking firms. The second in the series took $25,000 of the company’s money and allegedly spent it on parties.

Felony charges were filed against Silverleaf Partners on March 22, 2010 and an arrest warrant issued for Shane Baldwin, the company CEO. He posted bail and said via his attorney he maintains his innocence. In December 2007 this blog published a series of questions about the credentials of Silverleaf’s principals which went unanswered at the time by AEHI.

AEHI has not reported results from the third firm it hired to raise money. It’s always possible the third try will be the charm that works. In the meantime, AEHI has been raising money through sale of stock to its board members and corporate officers.

The firm’s stock has headed north in recent weeks towards $0.20/share giving it a market cap of $53 million. However, the firm has yet to publish a balance sheet showing more than $1 million in cash on hand. It has immediate needs of at least $25-50 million to submit a license application to the NRC by the end of 2011. It will need five-to-eight billion to build a reactor.

Promises promises

CEO Gillispie has made promises in Payette County about job creation. The Idaho Statesman reported the latest include that the plant would create around 5,000 jobs through the construction phase and more than 1,000 jobs during operations averaging $60,000 to $80,000/year.

powerlinesIt’s unclear how even if the plant is built how it will get 1,400 MW of electricity to market. Significant upgrades will be needed to transmission and distribution infrastructure to get the power out of Idaho and into regional markets. Investors will want the answer to that question.

The Idaho State government Office of Energy Resources reports the interconnected transmission system in the west is at or near capacity and many constrained paths have been identified. The existing bottlenecks in the power grid could create serious disruptions.

“The expense associated with high capacity transmission projects ranges from $1.6 million to $2.6 million per mile. Delays or siting conflicts could add significant and perhaps unnecessary costs to projects. In some circumstances, financial considerations associated with these issues could ultimately stall a critical project.”

One of those critical projects could be AEHI’s reactor. There are plenty of challenges ahead. It will be interesting to see how the company meets them.

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