Gypsum goes geothermal |

Gypsum goes geothermal

Derek Franz
Eagle County Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GYPSUM, Colorado – At their Tuesday meeting, Gypsum town council members gave continued approval for geothermal exploration on town property at the airport.

The plan to drill an exploratory well about 4,000 feet deep at the Eagle County Regional Airport has been in the works since July 2010. Since then, lawyers for the town and the company who wants to do the drilling – Flint Eagle LLC – have been sorting issues of water, mineral and property rights.

“Thank you for entertaining this concept,” Robinson said to the council. “We feel we’re on solid ground after months of research.”

Robinson hopes to find water in the Rio Grande Rift that’s hot enough to use for heating or energy. The concept of going that deep is a relatively new one. Most geothermal resources that are used today are much closer to the earth’s surface.

“It’s a bit of legal pioneering that we’re doing,” Robinson said in January. “Nobody has done what we are trying to do, at least not in Colorado.”

Ramsey Kropf, a partner of a water law firm from Aspen – Patrick, Miller, Kropf – presented two agreements on Tuesday, which the town council members approved unanimously.

The first is a geothermal access and surface use agreement.

“It’s basically a land lease and royalty agreement,” Kropf said. She added that they must be careful the new agreement won’t violate other agreements the town currently has with Holy Cross Energy and SourceGas.

“There are also significant provisions that guide how drilling has to occur,” Kropf said.

The second agreement is the thermal supply agreement, which essentially lays out who will be responsible for what.

“The town will need to supply a heat exchanger that interfaces with the town’s existing boiler,” Robinson said. “Flint bears the costs all the way up to that point.”

Those agreements are assuming a usable geothermal resource is found.

The drilling for the exploratory well will take about two weeks to 30 days. The bore will only be 77⁄8 inches in diameter – just enough to see what’s down there. If there’s a resource, the diameter of the well will be expanded.

Council member Pam Schultz expressed concern about the noise pollution.

Robinson acknowledged that there will be diesel equipment running 24 hours a day until the drilling is completed.

“But the sound is temporary,” he said. “After that, when everything’s in place, it’ll be running quiet.”

Robinson also explained that the drilling equipment will be of the smaller variety.

“It’ll be a single 30-foot joint that’s used, as opposed to a triple,” he said. “A normal rig is 150 feet high.”

Kropf said notice about the drilling will have to be given to surrounding properties.

Robinson finished by saying the company will aim to drill when the weather is warmer and reiterated that the town has no financial risk with the exploration.

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