Energy policy — nuclear: Pueblo County ‘Clean Energy Park’ update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Strescino):

Today, [Don Banner] will present his case in front of the Pueblo Area Council of Governments at noon at the Pueblo County Conference Room, 1001 N. Santa Fe Ave.

The planning commission votes came at the end of an almost seven-hour meeting that ended just before midnight. A passionate but respectful crowd of at least 100 people attended the meeting, many staying until the end. Following the meeting Banner said the commission decision, which also adopted recommendations from the planning staff, was simply a move in the right direction. He pointed out the county recommendation states that spent nuclear fuel must be moved off the power-plant property — which conflicts with federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules that require spent fuel must be stored on site. “(The recommendation) is a killer,” Banner said. “But now it’s on to the county commissioners.”[…]

Banner asked the planning commission to approve two requests. The first was to change the zoning of the proposed 24,000-acre site south of Grape Road and east of Huerfano Road from agricultural to a planned unit development. The other request, the one under fire from many opponents Tuesday, was to fast-track the process of county approval. Banner wants the county to waive many fees and procedures. He also asked the county not to duplicate hearings the NRC will conduct. Banner said the federal regulatory process is rigorous and many of the public hearings that they will hold would duplicate local meetings…

In his Clean Energy Park idea, Banner has formed Puebloans For Energizing Our Community, a limited liability company. Banner told the commission that he plans to have solar, wind and geothermal producers on the huge site, just a fraction of which would be taken up by the nuclear plant. Banner said the first phase of his project, if approved by the county commissioners, would last two years. In that time, his LLC would identify developers, certify the land (which he already has contracted for) and find suitable water rights, which he says are there with the Welton Ditch and two wells on the property. “I may not find anyone,” Banner said. “We need a $5 billion to $8 billion investment. The second thing (which the NRC would investigate) would be if the land is suitable.”

The water used for a nuclear plant is one-tenth of what is needed for Xcel Energy’s new Comanche plant, he said…

“This would have more impact on the Pueblo economy than the steel mill did in 1900,” he said. Much of Banner’s presentation focused on the safety of nuclear plants, and the fact that France and other nations obtain much of their energy from nuclear plants. And the United States has more stringent safety rules than any other nation…

Fourteen people spoke in support of Banner’s plan, including a wildlife biologist who worked near a plant in Georgia, a couple of retirees from the nuclear field with advanced degrees, a labor representative, local business people and a CSU-Pueblo marketing professor. They echoed and amplified Banner’s contentions, but did not seem to be coached or unified in their testimonials.

More coverage from Peter Strescino writing for The Pueblo Chieftain

A sampling of the highlights of some of the 15 responders to Don Banner’s long presentation in hopes of getting a nuclear power plant:

Carolyn Herzberger, who helped formulate the county’s regional development plan, took issue to Banner wishing to change the zoning of 2,400 acres south of Grape Road and east of Huerfano Road. In response to a Banner contention, she said, “Nuclear power is not safe, not clean, not cheap.” Herzberger also read headlines disputing Banner’s claim of plant safety, and said in 2008 alone, there were 51 supported problems at plants in the United States…

Roy Wiley, an organic farmer and member of a longtime farming family, doubted Banner could find enough water, and said the site will be a, “nuclear waste dump. Period.”

Janet Johnson said a plant would place a stigma on the county, and recounted growing up in a family that worked in uranium mines near Grand Junction. Many in her family did not live to see their mid-50s. “If there’s an accident here, Mr. Banner and his investors will not pay because federal law protects them,” she said. She said Cotter Corp. in Canon City has escaped paying for its pollution of the area. “The people around Rocky Flats were collateral damage of the Cold War and the people of Canon City are collateral damage of the energy industry.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

One thought on “Energy policy — nuclear: Pueblo County ‘Clean Energy Park’ update

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