A proposed energy park southwest of Fowler includes plans for a nuclear plant.
At a meeting last Thursday evening, Fowler area residents learned about plans for a proposed energy park south west of Fowler in Pueblo County.
First announced in 2008, the Colorado Energy Park would be located on land currently owned by the BX Ranch south of Boone. Ideally, a nuclear plant would act as the anchor for the proposed facility with other forms of alternate energy including solar and biomass complementing the park's energy offerings.
At this time Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI), based in Boise, Idaho, is the primary firm showing interest in developing a nuclear plant in Colorado. Formed in 2006 to aid nuclear plant startup projects, the company is headed by Don Gillispie, a former senior executive with a nuclear utility. Gillispie visited southeastern Colorado earlier this month to talk about the project and gauge local and state support of nuclear power. According to Gillispie, the proposed site looks promising and is being considered.
Approximately 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States is supplied by 104 nuclear units, at 65 sites, located mainly in the eastern half of the country. Nuclear power is touted as clean, safe, and cheaper than any other form of new energy source available today. According to information provided by AEHI, nuclear energy is the safest way to generate baseload power and a nuclear plant emits no radiation into the community. Since the U.S. nuclear industry started in 1957, no one has been killed, injured or even improperly exposed to radiation at a commercial nuclear plant.
Gillispie says a nuclear power plant is a huge asset to local communities in a variety of ways. Economic impact studies show construction of a new reactor constitutes four to five years worth of jobs for as many as 5,000 workers, with 1000 to 1500 direct and indirect permanent jobs created once the plant begins operation. Careers in the nuclear industry average about $80,000 per year and most require only a high school education and some specialized training.
“Something like this can change a community,” states Gillispie. “I have seen economically depressed counties transformed into some of the most affluent counties in the state as a result of a nuclear plant being constructed.”
However, the process of planning and constructing a nuclear plant takes years. Regulatory reviews can take 3 to 4 years alone. The project near Fowler is still in a preliminary, proposal stage. More information about AEHI can be found on the internet at www.alternateenergyholdings.com along with links to sites which explain nuclear energy in more detail.