PAYETTE, Idaho (AP) - An official of MidAmerican Nuclear Energy confirms his company has decided to end its pursuit of a nuclear energy plant in southwest Idaho.
In a message posted on the Iowa company's Web site Sunday, Bill Fehrman said that after due diligence, MidAmerican Nuclear concluded it does not make economic sense to pursue the Payette County project at this time.
The decision was based on the economics of building a nuclear plant and not on whether the site near Payette was suitable, Fehrman said.
"We at MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, the parent of MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Company, continue to believe that nuclear energy must be an important part of the nation's energy future," Fehrman said in the statement.
"Based on MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company's commitment to provide customers with safe, reliable, reasonably priced and environmentally conscious energy, we are disappointed that the present economics of building the next generation of nuclear power plants are not in our customers' best interests," Fehrman said.
Fehrman thanked the hundreds of residents who turned out for an information meeting last month.
At that meeting, Fehrman told about 400 people that his company would decide by fall whether to pursue permitting and construction.
Many at the meeting had concerns about the availability of water. Payette is a high desert town tied to farming and located near the confluence of the Snake and Payette rivers.
The proposed reactor would use an estimated 25,000 acre-feet of water annually, more than a quarter of the water stored in Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise, Fehrman said then.
Former Idaho Sen. James McClure was hired as a consultant by MidAmerican and its holding company, based in Des Moines, Iowa. That company owns Rocky Mountain Power, which serves eastern Idaho.
The company has built fossil fuel plants and renewable-energy projects, but not nuclear power plants. It was conducting geologic tests on 3,300 acres of private land about 70 miles north of Boise near Paddock Valley Reservoir.
The MidAmerican proposal was the second nuclear power plant being considered in Idaho. Alternate Energy Holdings has said it wants to build a nuclear plant on 4,000 acres in Owyhee County near Bruneau, about 65 miles southeast of Boise.