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With Americans concerned about the environment and being power
independent, Alternate Energy Holdings is in the right place at the right time
building a nuclear power plant in Idaho and offering other alternate energy sources to
Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc.
PO Box 166
Thaxton, VA 24174
President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published - May 25, 2007
President and CEO
A past nuclear utility senior executive, has served as President of AEHI since
inception. Mr. Gillispie additionally is owner of Grace Glens Consulting, a technical
management consulting company, which advises senior utility executives on managing
commercial nuclear power companies, and other non-nuclear organizations. Mr.
Gillispie helped start up a technical management consulting business, INPO, in Atlanta, GA
and a nuclear operating company, NMC, in Hudson, WI which operates six nuclear power
plants with 5,000 employees. NMC was awarded best in class for innovation by Forbes
Magazine in 2001.
Energy Holdings seeks to evolve with the growing
needs of the energy market to provide reliable, low cost, large-scale power production
as well as exceptional value to stakeholders. Under the direction of its highly
distinguished Board, AEHI actively develops and markets innovative clean energy sources to
reduce dependence on foreign energy sources and help address the national energy
shortfall. Current projects include: nuclear construction, bio-fuel generation, solar/wind
for homes and offices, an economical green fuel additive that will reduce the cost of
natural gas energy production by 25% to 40%, marketable lightning harvesting technology
for electricity production, carbon dioxide removal from gas turbine exhaust, and urban
mini-reactors for safe, compact power generation.
CEOCFO: Mr. Gillispie, what is the vision for Alternate
Energy Holdings and how do you get there?
Mr. Gillispie: We were a group of retired energy
executives who saw a need and something we could do, which was to help with the energy
independence issue and CO2 reduction as it relates to global warming. We came out of
retirement and started this small company to do that. The mission is tied to energy
independence, because we are not too happy where our money is going now, such as helping
those who maybe want to do harm to us. Additionally, of course, we are concerned with air
quality and our environments future.
CEOCFO: There seems to be some
negative feeling about nuclear energy; why shouldnt it be thought of that way?
Mr. Gillispie: Nuclear energy had a great start
in the 1950s and was going gang busters, plants were being built through the
50s and 60s, and then in the 70s Three Mile Island occurred. It was an
event no one expected, and mistakes made by the operators caused the majority of the
problems. However, the good news is that the safety systems and the containment, including
the reactor vessels, contained the damage to the fuel and nothing was released. There were
quite a few lawsuits that came out of that; none of them successful. However, it was a
great wake-up call and the industry is stronger, safer and more effective than it was
then. You can look at it compared to real accidents such as the petrochemical explosion in
India, still one of the biggest in the world, where 4,000 people were killed. However,
nothing like that happened with western nuclear reactors. Chernobyl was a whole different
design without safety features, and the western world had tried to get Russia to shut
those down years before. One of the big concerns of the people who oppose nuclear power is
the waste issue. What should happen with the waste issue has already been developed in
France, England, Canada and Russia. They reprocess the waste, which is spent fuel. If you
reprocess it and burn it again, then there is no environmentally-harmful high-level waste.
It becomes a low-level waste, much like we have in the medical field. The United States
was on track to build a reprocessing plant in the 1970s, and we are now on track to
build one again.
CEOCFO: Where and how are you
going to implement your plan?
Mr. Gillispie: We have a number of other things
going on, but the major project is the Idaho Energy Complex. We have acquired about 4000
acres of land in Idaho, and right now we are in the process of getting local approval. In
fact, I am going to be doing some radio spots over the next couple of weeks to promote
awareness for this project. We believe the local approval is going to happen some time in
June, and then well start down the construction license application process, which
will probably take a couple of years. It is currently a slow process because it is just
getting started and there are other people in line to construct new nuclear plants.
However, we will be the only nuclear generating company in the United States that is
purely using nuclear power, rather than distributing power or using other utilities. We
will be an unregulated merchant plant, selling power to those who want it at the market
price. In the short run, quite a bit of waste heat comes from these plant and we
feel its being wasted around the world now. The only place I know of that waste heat
is being used is in Finland, where they run the heat under the streets and into the cities
to heat the office buildings and melt the snow off the street. We plan to produce
ethanol and methane, in agricultural areas in Idaho. We can use the waste heat to produce
ethanol. Most of the cost in ethanol generation is the energy used to make it; in fact,
sometimes ethanol production requires more energy put into it than can be taken out of it.
However, by using the excess heat generated by the IECs nuclear plant, ethanol
production costs will be significantly reduced. There is also a large cattle feedlot
nearby that generates animal waste, which can easily be converted to methane. We are
hoping to get three energy sources out of this plant. The Idaho Energy Complex will be the
first of its type in the world to do that, and it offers a big return on investment.
CEOCFO: Is the ability to use
the extras there one of the reasons you picked the spot where you are building the plant?
Mr. Gillispie: First, the northwest part of the
United States only has one plant and most of the states in the northwest import power. As
you get further to the west you pick up northern California. All of these states do not
have enough power built in their states right now - primarily hydro plants played out,
many of which are being closed. They are scrambling trying to do wind and solar, which are
a nice supplemental sources, but not adequate for base-load energy. There is a tremendous
demand in that region, including Idaho. We felt the state would be friendly to this sort
of idea, as it imports about 80% of its power currently. Boise is one of the fastest
growing cities in the United States, so we began looking into that area; it is a large
state with a smaller population, so there are plenty of places to put a plant without
going into anyones backyard. Also, it is zoned for any industrial complex. We
thought that whole combination made for a place where we could build a plant and help
power the whole region - maybe even a good part of the west if we put multiple units in
there some day. That was the origination of Idahos selection.
CEOCFO: How will you fund all
Mr. Gillispie: Funding is not an issue. I
started out to buy a piece of property in Idaho for $25 million and just as I was about to
close on the deal, the owner, a wealthy business man who happened to live in Aspen, called
me and said I dont want to sell you the land. Therefore, I thought that
he had changed his mind. He said no, no, I want to give it to you. I want to
invest in what you are doing. I have been looking into this idea and I think that it has
merit. This is a very successful businessman who has owned a number of companies; he
said he knows a good idea when he sees one, so he wanted in on this project. Therefore, he
has now invested the land for the Idaho Energy Complex. Right now, I have probably a
half-a-dozen companies who want to invest. I have utilities who want to pay me money to be
part owners of the plant for the power, though their names are confidential at the moment.
I even got calls from MALTA, a group that is developing an investment fund that goes from
cradle to grave in the nuclear cycle from digging uranium out of the ground to producing
electricity from a reactor. They think IEC is going to be an excellent investment. They
said that I was one of the few plants or companies that probably would fit into their plan
later on, because of the fact that we are a pure nuclear generating company.
We have some other side things we are doing. The world is changing; a couple of years ago
you and I probably would not be having this conversation. I went to a conference with all
the CEOs and the utilities in the U.S. in 2004, and I asked them when they were going to
build a new plant. The unanimous reply was that they would wait for somebody else. No one
wanted to be first, because the process is too hard. I came away from that
experience thinking that I would start the company and be the first to get these guys
going. That was the genesis of the idea of this company. In fact, we changed the name of
the company from SunBelt Energy Resources and went public last fall (2006), with the
multi-energy holdings idea of having the nuclear plant, the bio-fuels, and other green
energy technologies as a holding company. Right now, we are in the process of acquiring
small companies on the demand side. Our generation is on the supply side: ethanol and
electricity. On the demand side, we have people who can install things such as solar
collectors and geothermal pumps, where we can make a house energy independent. For those
living on the east coast, this doesnt happen very often. However, I can go to the
west coast today and see this kind of thing all the time; the west coast has had much
higher energy prices and a shortage of power. There was a California blackout back in 2001
because the state wasnt building any kind of power plants. Electricity in New Jersey
is now .20 cents a kilowatt hour, so I can go into a home there and make it energy
neutral, saving a ton of money.
CEOCFO: Why do you think this
is the time people are ready for energy alternatives?
Mr. Gillispie: The time is right for a nuclear
power plant and the other alternate energy sources that we will be offering, because
people have already been through the power shortages of the 1970s. Plus, there is
the environmental issue, which is very significant today. We have a whole generation of
people growing up behind me in the last 20-40 years who have been told that they have to
clean up the environment. With that group of people now in the voting block, it is going
to happen. In addition, there is the terrorism issue, with people no longer supporting
dependence on foreign oil.
CEOCFO: Why should people be
interested in investing?
Mr. Gillispie: We have an extremely strong
management team that we put together, and we are using their experience. We are also able
to help some of the smaller companies we are acquiring. They came up with some good ideas,
started up, but are struggling a bit to grow. We are able to help lay out cash for them
and use our contacts to expand them. Our strong suit is really our expertise. We can
filter through some of these small companies and put them in as an AEHI holding. We have
done the homework for the investor to also be a part of these smaller companies, in
addition to pure nuclear generation.
CEOCFO: In closing, what should
people remember about Alternate Energy Holdings?
Mr. Gillispie: We are an unusual group with a
mission in mind, something we had a passion for. We believe it is the right thing to do,
as well as something we have the experience and skills to do well. I think we all at this
age look back in life and think: what I can do to give back? Some of us
volunteer to take food to the homeless and some go to the nursing homes. My wife
does some of those things, but I thought to myself: I can run an energy company and
help this country with its present energy struggles, so I employed some of my
friends in similar situations. We are doing something worth doing. We are not treading
water or looking to make a fast buck, but we are successful financially. To investors:
Whether you invest in my company or not, I would invest in some of these type companies. I
believe they will help this country move forward - away from energy dependency and toward
a solution to global warming.
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