Energy policy — geothermal: Aspen is first Colorado municipality to file permit request under Colorado geothermal law

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Here’s a look at Aspen’s geothermal plans, from Carolyn Sackariason writing for the Aspen Times. From the article:

Last week the council awarded a contract to John Kaufman of Rocky Mountain Water Consulting LLC to prepare a report for the state water court, which has the authority to allow the city to move forward with test drilling and be granted water rights to tap into geothermal heat underneath Aspen, said John Hines, the city’s renewable energy utilities manager. A state engineer has determined that water rights will likely be granted. But first, the city has to prove that it will not harm the Roaring Fork River in its quest to find geothermal resources underground. That is what Kaufman’s report will contain, which will then be submitted to the state water court. The court is expected to rule on Aspen’s water rights Jan. 15, Hines said…

Meanwhile, the city is applying for a federal grant with the Department of Energy to help pay for the entire geothermal project, which is estimated to cost $3.5 million. The test drilling was scheduled to be done this year but because of the high cost of doing it, city officials decided to hold off and try to get federal money. If the grant is awarded, the city could begin drilling early next year…

The goal is to find enough geothermal energy to heat 1 million square feet, the equivalent of 10 large hotels. Doing so would cut Aspen’s natural gas needs by about 15 percent, according to city officials. A geothermal heat district could potentially provide renewable heating and cooling to businesses within a 4-square mile radius of downtown Aspen. Last year Kaufman conducted a geothermal reconnaissance study, which found that warm ground water associated with hydrothermal deposits of silver, lead and zinc ore beneath Aspen may be present in sufficient quantities for direct heat exchange, or for the application of a groundwater heat pump system…

The city’s water rights application makes Aspen the first municipality to apply under the new Colorado Geothermal Act. The geothermal heat would work by taking the steam and hot water produced in the earth’s core and using it to heat a glycol-based solution that circulates through buildings to heat them. Customers would pay according to the thermal units of energy used as the heated liquid goes by their building. Electricity would be needed to move the water. City officials in the past have said they want to find a well or combination of wells that will produce 5,000 gallons per minute of 140-degree water.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

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