Energy policy — geothermal: Chaffee County update

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From The Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

The Bureau of Land Management last month postponed the geothermal-lease sale scheduled for Thursday of 800 acres in Chaffee County to do further environmental reviews. It was the third time the bureau has postponed the sale. “They keep changing the rules,” said James Jones, the oil-and-gas landman who nominated the parcel for lease sale.

The outpouring of opposition — more than 240 protest letters and a five-hour meeting with 170 area residents — prompted the delay, said Lynn Rust, the bureau’s state deputy director for lands, energy and minerals. “Mr. Jones has expressed his concerns,” said Rust. “We just feel we have to go in and deal with public concerns.”

Jones said he nominated the area in the Chalk Creek Valley based on Colorado Geological Survey data. “It is the hottest and most active site in the state,” said Jones, who switched to developing geothermal resources when the oil-and- gas industry declined. Many issues opponents are raising cannot be addressed until after a lease is issued and there is a proposed project, said Jones, adding: “I will not be the man to ruin the Chalk Creek Valley.”[…]

The November sale was postponed, [Fred Henderson, head of locally based Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC] said, because the bureau and the state had not worked out an agreement on regulating geothermal wells — which fall under Colorado water law. The bureau and the state Department of Natural Resources are still negotiating that water agreement. “This has become a quagmire,” said Syd Schieren, who lives in the valley and operates a commercial geothermal greenhouse and hot-springs vacation cabins. The reason, Schieren said, is the bureau’s failure to do proper public outreach and adequately assess the site — which encompasses steep cliffs and a flood plain. “They really didn’t do an on-site analysis,” Schieren said. “They tried to go too fast.”

More geothermal coverage here and here.

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