Energy policy — geothermal: U.S. Bureau of Land Management to lease 799.2 acres near Mt. Princeton hot springs for geothermal exploration on November 12

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Update: From the Associated Press via The Aspen Times:

The Bureau of Land Management had planned to offer 800 acres of public property for geothermal during its auction this month, but will postpone action on the proposed lease until its February auction. Federal officials want more time to study the potential effects of geothermal development on water and property rights.

From The Chaffee County Times (Danny Bay):

According to the SRHA, anyone has the right to enter these federally owned sub-surface lands, prospect, and file a mining claim and plan of operation. Since the geothermal resource sits underground, it is sub-surface land. This is the basis for the sale on Nov. 12, the first geothermal lease to be auctioned by the BLM in the state of Colorado. It is open to anyone who chooses to register. Henderson said that the new owner of the federal lease will only have up to one year to create what will lead to the development of the resource. “They can’t sit on it indefinitely,” Henderson said.

But what [Buena Vista resident Steve] Glover said horrifies him is that if a developer does begin commercial production of electricity, the lease becomes open permanently. “They can ramp it up from a small project and no one could do a blessed thing about it,” he said, adding that it has the potential to expand vastly and turn one of the most aesthetically beautiful parts of Colorado into a semi-permanent industrial area…

Bill Bennett, energy use adviser for Sangre De Cristo Electric Association, said he thinks a plant could be hidden very well by building it inside, like something similar to a greenhouse or by putting bunkers around it to shield the noise. “Geothermal can run 24 hours with no down capacity. A 10-megawatt plant could supply 84 percent of all the electricity we supply all year. There are people who understand that it has no consumption, no combustion and no pollution, but they just don’t want to look at it,” Bennett said.

In response to this, Glover referenced a Salt Lake Tribune article about a 10-megawatt geothermal plant in Utah that, after six months of generating power, produces only one megawatt of net energy and buys almost as much electricity to keep the plant running as the plant produces. “There seems to be a real rush to do this. There’s a lot of ego involved in being the first to do it and I understand this. But it could come at a great cost and it should be carefully considered,” Glover said. “It would be a shame to so easily allow this to go forward.”

More geothermal coverage here and here.

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