MONTROSE, Oct. 29, 9:52 p.m. – A “gold rush” for geothermal energy may not yet be imminent in
Local government and industry representatives and experts from throughout the West, including Ouray County Commissioners Heidi Albritton and Keith Meinert, and County Administrator Connie Hunt, attended a “Geothermal Energy Investors’ Forum” to explore the economic, financial and legal aspects of geothermal energy. The forum was part of the “Renewable Energy Forum & Expo” held at the Montrose Pavilion, Oct. 19-22.
The forum was the result of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “GeoPowering in the West” initiative and was held in conjunction with
“DMEA is delighted to host this forum in our service territory,” said Paul Bony, DMEA’s Manager of Marketing and Members Services, in a press release. “We hope it leads to the serious exploration of geothermal resources in
The county is examining the industry as a possible future economic component and is evaluating whether or not to promote and provide incentives for the geothermal industry, and how to regulate the development.
The event enjoyed large attendance from an array of corporate executives, promotional entities such as the Geothermal Resource Council, entrepreneurs and government officials. Those in attendance came from as far away as Iceland and Australia, soaking up detailed technical presentations about the myriad of “how to’s” including the stages required to locate and develop a plant, geothermal capitalization, utilization of geothermal technology in the most cost efficient manner, what project development companies are looking for, and where geothermal potential is most readily exploitable in various regions of the state.
According to the Colorado Geological Society and other researchers,
The Colorado Geological Survey has already identified several areas of the state where geothermal energy may be abundant, including areas near
Ouray sites include the
The commissioners heard ways of using geothermal energy, ranging from a small homeowner tapping a shallow well heat source to power a generator, to a 10,000-foot-deep well for industrial operation that could cost upwards of $10 million to build. Commenting on the forum at the Oct. 22 commissioners meeting, Meinert said, “It is less understood than other areas and might be perceived as a problem here as compared from a permitting standpoint.”
Meinert cited surface rights issues, in which the Bureau of Land Management could lease geothermal rights to corporations in the same way they do to oil and gas projects.
“We need to be forewarned and forearmedÉand there may be a need to take action here,” said Meinert, who was an oil industry executive in
“Relatively small” geothermal generation could be explored and made feasible here, said Hunt. “That kind of technology change is the type we need to understand Đ less obtrusive could become more palatable.”