Pagosa Verde symposium explores alternative geothermal uses

For more than a year now, a local geothermal energy exploration company, Pagosa Verde (PV), has been poking holes into the aquifer around town, trying to determine if the water is hot enough and has enough flow to produce electricity.

This exploration project began as a public/private partnership, with the Pagosa Springs Town Council and the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners agreeing to form a quasi-governmental entity known as the Pagosa Area Geothermal Water and Power Authority (PAGWAPA). PAGWAPA then entered into a contract with Pagosa Verde to form Pagosa Waters LLC.

Not only did the two local governments contribute funds from their own budgets, they also acted on behalf of the project to secure grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the U.S. Department of Energy.

One consequence of this government involvement in the project was the need for oversight of public funds, and whenever the PAGWAPA board meets it always receives a progress report from PV owner Jerry Smith and project manager Kristen Skeehan.

In the beginning, these reports were full of optimism, describing so much water flowing up out of the first thermal gradient well that it was hard to keep it under control, but, as time passed and more wells were drilled and more data was collected, the tone of the reports began to shift.

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This story was posted on September 3, 2015.