Don Gillispie, the CEO of Alternative Energy Holdings, Inc., is an aggressive businessman who is bootstrapping a “penny stock” company on a quest to build two large, 1700 MWe nuclear power plants in Payette County Idaho. His company is also working on developing partnerships that can produce desalination plants that produce clean water using atomic fission energy as the heat source.
Though there are some nuclear industry observers who view AEHI and Don Gillispie’s plans with legitimate skepticism because they believe he is unrealistic in his evaluation of the difficulty of building a nuclear powerhouse company from scratch, there is little doubt that Gillispie has several decades worth of nuclear energy experience and is investing real money into his ventures. He has gathered a management team with some impressive credentials and his company’s stock performance during the past year has indicated that there are at least some investors who believe in his vision. (Disclosure: I am a stockholder who has been pleased with the company’s recent performance.)
Gillispie is obviously a man who has a vested interest in nuclear energy. That is an attribute that makes his opinions on nuclear cost compared to other alternatives worth some consideration since he has chosen to bet his money and reputation on the validity of his evaluations. He might end up being wrong, but there are good reasons to believe that he has done the numbers to his own satisfaction.
In a recent press release that was picked up by MarketWatch.com, Gillispie took aim at the same Mark Cooper generated pronouncements on the cost comparisons between unreliable forms of energy like solar or wind and nuclear that I have attacked here on Atomic Insights. (See, for example, Gullible Reporting by New York Times on the Cost of Solar Electricity Versus Nuclear Electricity or Positive Lessons Extracted From Cooper’s Paper on French Nuclear Experience)
Here is a quote from the AEHI press release:
Most importantly, the price of nuclear plants is far lower than critics like Cooper estimate. “My company is on track to build not one, but two, large plants in Idaho for $9 – $10 billion,” Gillispie says. Reasons for the lower price tag include competition as new suppliers enter the market, which is lowering the capital cost, and the fact that key components are being built in Asia, where manufacturing costs are lower.
“The power from these new plants would cost 4-5 cents per kWh and based on today’s market, the carbon credits it creates could be sold for hundreds of millions of dollars as well,” says Gillispie, “This makes nuclear competitive with coal, with a decided clean-air advantage, since coal is the single biggest contributor of global warming in the world not to mention heavy metals like mercury and other lung damaging particles. And the price of nuclear power alone makes it a huge bargain over wind and solar. Further, we must have baseload electricity, which means large, highly reliable sources of power that renewables can’t deliver and if we don’t build clean low cost nuclear plants it will be more of the same; pollution from toxic coal plants that are already being planned because of the current nuclear plant delays.”
It would be nice if other leaders in the nuclear industry would speak out in favor of nuclear energy as aggressively as Gillispie has. That might be economically difficult for them, however, since AEHI is one of the only “pure plays” that is focused primarily on nuclear energy. Unlike other “nuclear” industry stalwarts, AEHI does not have major investments in established sources of power that would become less profitable in a competitive market where nuclear energy facilities deliver on Gillispie’s promise of abundant, reliable, clean power.