Energy Advisory Board gets sneak peek at county studies |

Energy Advisory Board gets sneak peek at county studies

RIFLE – The Energy Advisory Board got a look at preliminary results of two countywide studies Thursday. Ford Frick, of BBC Research and Consulting of Denver, presented findings of the studies – a land values and solutions study and social and economic impact study – which got under way a few months ago.In the first study, “we’re trying to understand and model the factors that drive land values in Garfield County and the factors that are deterrents to land values,” Frick said. The six-month study was launched in November.After gathering data about land sales in the county, Frick’s team has come up with a number of factors that appear to influence selling prices of properties. Among them are their proximity to Pitkin County, views of Mount Sopris and size of the property.One conclusion came to light early on.”We’re seeing a steady growth of land values in western Garfield County due to the oil and gas activity there,” Frick said.He said difficulties with incomplete data and some information that is simply unavailable, such as what properties have mineral and water rights, have made the work challenging.The study also considers other factors besides the influence oil and gas activity may have on property values. However, it is the perception in the county that oil and gas drilling and production have devalued property in the areas of most intense drilling.While the study is broader in scope, Frick said preliminary data shows that drilling does have a negative effect on property values, but only during that phase of development.He also said that data pertaining to oil and gas activity, notably that collected by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is about 30 percent incomplete regarding completion dates for drilled wells.”That’s something you can come to us for to fill those gaps,” said Dave Cesark, of Williams Production, a natural gas exploration and production company. Frick’s team is also beginning a socioeconomic study that will look at the forces that influence economic growth in the county. Among the data being considered are growth over time in households, population and jobs, Frick said.He said the team will develop a predictive model that can be used by local governments and other interested groups.Like the land values study, “this model won’t be driven by just one industry,” said assistant county manager Jesse Smith.Smith is forming subcommittees of 10 key industries, including developers, tourism, business, oil and gas and human services, which will provide information to Frick’s team as well as feedback on the developing model. Frick said that study should be completed in the fall.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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