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Proposal for New Nuclear Build in Idaho

In this case, a 1,500 MWe reactor near Bruneau. For the press release announcing the letter of intent, click here. For more on the company behind the proposal, click here.

UPDATE: The news has been picked up in Idaho by Red State Rebels, a progressive politics blog. As I've noted before, there's a surprising amount of support for new nuclear. Stop by and join the debate.

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Kirk Sorensen said…
Wow--that is one biased article. You would think that they're melting down spent fuel rods and sprinkling them over the countryside with the way the anti-nukes are portraying the reactor.

One legitimate question does come up--the need for cooling water. You don't see a lot of nuclear build in the West compared to the East and one of the major reasons is a lack of large rivers. Is the Snake River sufficient for plant cooling?
Starvid, Sweden said…
If the nations largest nuclear power plant, Palo Verde, can be located in the middle of a desert, I think Snake River will suffice.
Julie in Boise said…
Hi. I write Red State Rebels, a Democratic blog in Idaho. We have a fairly lively discussion going on this story. As it shows, not all Western Dems are dead set against nuclear energy, though we do demand oversight and question this particular proposal's bona fides:
Anonymous said…
Any idea if this is a ESBWR? Usually the EPR is listed as 1600 MWe. The ESBWR is more in the 1500 MWe range.
robert merkel said…
Kirk, if there's not enough water for a nuclear plant, there's probably not enough for a fossil fuel plant either. Current-generation nukes do use more water than current-generation fossil fuel plants but the difference isn't huge.

Particularly as you'd be crazy to build any new fossil fuel plant without planning for a future installation of carbon capture and storage technologies, which will reduce the net output and thus markedly increase the water usage per unit output.

I do also wonder about the likelihood of a new company being able to gain financing and regulatory approval to operate a reactor so quickly. However, the fact that startup companies are forming to seek opportunities in the sector should say something about the prospects for the future.
Anonymous said…
This company's web site says, "AEHI will be the first nuclear generating company in the U.S. and will easily outperform large nuclear and fossil type utilities with their inherent bureaucracy." Their stock currently trades at $2. Thus they look a bit flakey. It's good to see the discussion that this story has produced, but this does not look like a company with the capability to actually license, build and operate a nuclear plant.
Rod Adams said…
If you go to the Alternative Energy Holdings, Inc. web site and click on the link for Managers and Directors you will find list of people with amazingly strong credentials in the nuclear world.

The list includes people who have held senior positions at the NRC, INPO, and NEI. It looks like there is at least one former plant manager and a past president of two utility nuclear business units.

I am impressed and hopeful that these people have seen an opportunity to excel for themselves and their investors.

I am also intrigued by their R&D page comment about "Urban Mini-Reactors". Whoever heard of the idea of a nuclear power plant that is minimal in size, needs little cooling water, and is inherently safe. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek since I have been working on and writing about just such a system for at least a dozen years.)
Sounds kind of like Amarillo Power.

I wouldn't be too optimistic.
Rod Adams said…

Are you implying that there is a problem with Amarillo Power's plans?

It seems to me that they have simply put their head down and are working hard to overcome any barriers for their success. The lack of vocal news should not be construed as lack of progress.

I personally have no inside information, but have enough experience with people that know how to get things done to realize that they often do a whole lot of work without anyone hearing much about it.

Do you seriously think that a company like Amarillo Power (or AEHI, for that matter) is going to build a nuclear power plant in the current political climate? Personally, I don't think they have enough experience to know what the true costs are. They might start a project, get heavily in debt due to NRC dilly-dallying, and cancel it. But I'm more inclined to think they're good businesspeople and won't even try once they start seeing $5-6 billion as the low end.

Don't get me wrong; I wish them the best, but I really don't think the business case is there.
David Bradish said…
I kind of have to go with Rod on this. What did we do when we first started building nukes? No one had all the experience and yet we still went ahead. And there were a lot of different companies building only one or two reactors. Only in the last 5-10 years did much of the consolidation take place.

As well, if a company gets in debt it won't be due to the NRC. By the time the reactor starts construction, all the paperwork and licensing will be done. And if the company builds what it is licensed to build, then the NRC has no reason to delay the reactor.
>>What did we do when we first started building nukes? No one had all the experience and yet we still went ahead.

That wasn't a terribly successful time in the industry's history. Plus, the political climate is much different today.

>>As well, if a company gets in debt it won't be due to the NRC. By the time the reactor starts construction, all the paperwork and licensing will be done.

Will they be in debt by the time that happens (remember all the plants that were canceled in 1982-83 that were ordered in the mid-70s and still didn't have CPs)? And certainly, there must be some paperwork during construction. With 30-odd proposals coming in between 4Q 2007 and 2011, what would lead you to believe that there wouldn't be a late-70s-style logjam? If the economy tanks and/or the price of oil or natural gas comes back down, or something like fusion comes out of the blue, I would think that less-well-backed proposals such as this would be canceled first.
Anonymous said…
You make some good points but the comment about fusion is just a little out of place. The ITER test plant in France is just getting going so at best we will see something in the next 20 to 30 years.

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