County, town to participate in geothermal regs project


    By Randi Pierce

    Staff Writer

    On Monday, Archuleta County and the Town of Pagosa Springs, in partnership with two other entities, received grant funding for the development of 1041regulations (dubbed as such with reference to House Bill 74-1041) for geothermal development.

    The award, for the Colorado Heritage Planning Grant (CHPG) through the Department of Local Affairs (DoLA), will provide up to $11,750 from the organization to aid the development of the regulations, which are anticipated to be a model for counties and municipalities statewide.

    Chaffee County, one of the partnering entities, will serve as the fiscal agent for the funding and received the letter.

    “I am pleased to inform you that your project to develop model county and municipal 1041 regulations for geothermal development has been approved for full funding,” states the award letter from DoLA Executive Director Reeves Brown. “This award recognizes your partnership with Archuleta and Ouray counties and the Town of Pagosa Springs to develop these models together.”

    According to the letter, the model regulations will be customized for Chaffee and Archuleta counties, and Ouray County and the Town of Pagosa Springs will receive the model regulations to be customized on their own.

    “I think it’s another good victory for Archuleta County because it keeps us at the forefront of driving geothermal … in the state of Colorado,” said County Attorney Todd Starr, who served on a statewide task force on the topic and who was chosen to lead the effort to create regulations.

    “It allows us to assert local control over our natural resources,” Starr said, explaining that local control is viewed as preferable to bureaucratic control.

    “It gives counties jurisdictional control over land use,” said geothermal activist Jerry Smith, who aided in the grant quest.

    Uniform regulations across the state will also, Smith said, make geothermal activity more appealing to investors.

    The project description included in the grant application further explains the situation:

    “In 2010, Governor Ritter signed Senate Bill 10-174 authorizing Colorado Counties to designate geothermal development as an activity of state interest under House Bill 74-1041. As of yet, no County in Colorado has developed Geothermal 1041 Regulations. Chaffee, Archuleta, and Ouray counties each have unique geothermal resources which have been used for long periods of time as an important part of the local economies of each County. With improvements in geothermal energy producing technology, there is potential for utilizing the geothermal resources in these areas to produce energy on a commercial scale. The counties seek to balance the potential positive impacts of this natural resource development with the ongoing health safety and welfare of the local citizens through the drafting of Geothermal 1041 Regulations.”

    To develop those regulations, Chaffee County, on behalf of the partnership, will contract with attorney Barbara Green of Sullivan Green Seavy, LLC.

    The consulting agreement will be for a total of $23,500, which includes the $11,750 grant and matches by the four partnering agencies of $2,937.50 each, according to grant documentation.

    The grant endeavor was originally undertaken by the three counties but, when DoLA wanted more than county participation, the Town of Pagosa Springs was brought into the mix, Starr said.