Town considers funds for geothermal research


Staff Writer

The Town of Pagosa Springs council met in executive session with town attorney Bob Cole last Thursday, Dec. 19, with the topic of conversation centering on matters involving funding for a possible geothermal electric utility.

According to town manager David Mitchem, council gave Cole instruction during the executive session.

Mitchem said that the executive session did, “move the process forward,” but that no decisions were made at the meeting.

A decision, Mitchem indicated, is expected in the next three weeks to a month.

And, potentially, that decision could mirror a move made by the Archuleta County Board of Commissioners Dec. 13 during that board’s adoption of its 2014 budget.

At that meeting, the BoCC elected to move just under $200,000 that was originally expected to go to a new capital fund into a geothermal line item to bring that line item’s total to $200,000.

While no decisions have been made to spend the money thus far, earmarking the funding for geothermal research allows the county to spend it in 2014 should the need arise.

In an interview following the adoption of the county budget, commissioner Steve Wadley said geothermal power has the potential to help avoid the boom and bust of a tourism-based economy, while being on the cutting edge of power development and providing permanent jobs.

Mayor Ross Aragon said the geothermal utility discussed Dec. 19 was the same contract the county earmarked money for, and said the town and county have been and are expected to continue to be on par with each other in contributing to the project.

In 2013, both the town and the county pledged $65,000 toward research on geothermal resources and the possibility of using a geothermal resource to create power. That exploration work is being done by Pagosa Verde, LLC, headed by Jerry Smith.