Randi Pierce and Ed Fincher
With votes officially in the books by the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County, the Pagosa Area Geothermal Water and Power Authority has officially been formed — another step toward geothermal energy production in Archuleta County.
The town approved the agreement via an ordinance that was approved on March 20 and April 1, while the county approved the agreement via a memorandum of understanding on April 15.
The power authority will stand as a separate legal entity. Next, the power authority will join with Pagosa Verde, LLC to create Pagosa Waters, LLC — a public-private partnership.
While the move to form the power authority is a housekeeping move of sorts, both town and county representatives highlighted the importance of the agreement at their respective meetings.
“We do a lot of business with the county,” said Bob Cole, town attorney, “a lot of intergovernmental agreements, but in terms of forming an authority entity, I don’t recall that we’ve done this before.”
At the county’s meeting, commissioners Clifford Lucero and Steve Wadley referred to the agreement as a decision that will be looked back upon as a defining moment and “momentous step” for the future of the county.
Kirsten Skeehan, of Pagosa Verde, explained the structure of Pagosa Waters, LLC at the March 20 town council meeting, stating, “You are joining with the county to create the authority, and then the authority becomes a member of Pagosa Waters, LLC. Then Pagosa
Waters, LLC is what owns the project.”
Three representatives from each involved agency will sit on the board for the authority.
“An authority is on a different level of responsibility and it also has a different level of decision making,” Skeehan explained to town council, urging them to consider this when it appointed its representatives to the new board.
The power authority is currently in the process of negotiating a lease for test wells, and documents to officially form Pagosa Waters, LLC are in the review phrase, said Todd Starr, Archuleta County attorney.
Of the financial impact of the partnership and hopeful outcome, Jerry Smith, of Pagosa Verde explained at the March 20 meeting: “The net effect, financially, for the citizens of our county and town is very significant. Think in terms of twenty-five percent on the dollar of debt service that will now go away. That’s a huge amount of money.”