Rico Geothermal Coalition submits grant application to Colorado Energy Office

· Trustees Meeting,Geothermal
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Western Colorado University students measure water temperature at a geothermal pool north of Rico while instructor Dr. Holly Brunkal observes - September 29, 2023. In the backgroud, Dave Bulson digs a channel to insert a pipe for measuring geothermal spring flow rate, and Todd Gillman captures photo-images.

Ore Cart photo



a report from
Rico Board of Trustees Meeting
January 17, 2024




1) Colorado geothermal grant application submitted

A Colorado Energy Office Geothermal Energy Grant Program application cycle opened in November 2023. Rico Geothermal Coalition coordinator Teal Stephenson-Lee described a $100,000 grant proposal which was to be submitted by end of week at the Rico Board of Trustees monthly meeting January 17, 2024 at Rico Town Hall. The presentation accompanied a request for a letter of support from Town of Rico.

“The Letter of Support is to support a phase 1 scoping study using funds that have been released through the Colorado Geothermal Grant Program that started in 2023. This grant opportunity has three phases, and the phase we’re looking for is the very beginning. It’s actually a pre-feasibility study, not even a feasibility study, that will be taking a look at greenhouse gas reduction and cost-benefit through utilizing a geothermal district heating and cooling system."

"Our proposed project is very small. It’s going to be a community-use center on private property that will be located adjacent to the Bedrock Subdivision. . . . We’re hoping to create a community gathering space and education hub, composting, and public restroom, and a geothermally-heated greenhouse."

"The plan for that process of design and implementation would happen much further down the road, because right now we just want to look at the feasibility of using geothermal for heating and cooling for the Town of Rico on a super small scale so that we can start extrapolating and determine if that might be something that can serve our community more broadly.”


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Temperature gauge with cable extending to sensor in hot spring north of Rico. Hottest of 3 wells tested: 115.2 º F at 17 gallons per minute.

Ore Cart photo
September 29, 2023

. . .

Trustee Benn Vernadakis asked about water consumption which could affect the ability of nearby properties outside of Rico to acquire well permits for domestic water: “In this feasibility study, will that address the extremely limited water supply?”

Teal: “This project doesn’t involve any kind of well drilling, and its not looking at using any new water sources. What we would hope to do is partner with Atlantic Richfield and make use of one of the hot springs that’s already coming to the surface, and extract the heat from a surface spring that’s already flowing.

"And the other option is, as a geothermal district system applies more broadly, it can be done just with earth heat. That’s specifically the definition of geothermal , ‘geo’ as in ‘earth’ and ‘thermal’ as in ‘heat’ . . . digging a trench into the ground to utilize the 50 - 60 degree temperature for heating purposes.”

Benn asked about the public restroom outside of the Town boundary possible need for a well permit. Teal said a well for restrooms is not planned.

Trustee Pat Fallon asked about the project’s current relationship with Atlantic Richfield.

Teal: “We’ve had really preliminary discussions with them. They know that we’re interested in making use of a surface spring, and that’s as far as we’ve gotten right now. Part of this pre-feasibility study involves a public facing element, which is building stakeholders and developing the community connectivity around this whole process. So in the very preliminary stages, we just want to get our foot in the door with some of the funding that’s being released at the State level so that we can put more steps in place to access more funding as the project becomes more feasible and it becomes more viable for the community.”

Pat asked about a future need for large sums of money, and outside investors seeking to make a profit.

Teal: “That’s one perspective. But it also is opening the door for the community to be involved and understand how this resource can benefit the community by staying in the hands of the community. And getting a little bit of funding to do initial studies will allow that information to be shared within the community.”

. . . 

Rico Geothermal Coalition submitted its grant application January 19 to the Coloado Energy Office, which accepted it for consideration.


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