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Old 12-10-2009   #1
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It's not nice to F#@k with mother nature, Help!

I got this from a friend up in Chaffee county. The area in reference is Chalk Creek Canyon which empties into the Ark in Brown's Canyon. It's between Mt. Princeton and Mt. Antero.


Dear Friends;

We need your help to stop a newly opened Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease in the Chalk Creek Area, underneath private and public lands, for construction of a Geothermal Power Plant by writing a letter of protest. Of course, we support good green technology at appropriate sites. However, this proposal lacks credible technology as shown by the few existing plants of this type and will forever alter the valley that we love so much. The beautiful, long-standing recreational and relaxational area of this Valley will be forever changed for the worse - it would become an industrialized area, with large piping (~3-5 ft pipes) criss-crossing the Valley, well sites with dirt pads, access roads, noise pollution and no more hot water. Please see Chaffee County Geothermal for the whole story.

Historically, “low-temperature” geothermal (not steam), as we are blessed with here, has been used for Direct-Use applications such as spas, pools, heating, greenhouses, aquaculture etc. Historically, “high-temperature” geothermal (steam) has been used for electricity production. New technology is being introduced (largely still in the “Research & Design” phase) that can produce electricity from “low-temperature” geothermal aquifers. The 3 main problems we see are:
1) electric production has not met expectations, around 50%. In fact, they consume nearly as much coal power as they produce (see : Utah geothermal plant runs into cold-water problem | Energy & Utilities > Renewable Energy from AllBusiness.com )
2) re-injection wells will decrease the temperature of the aquifer 1° per year!! according to Chief Scientist Fred Henderson. In other words, in 10 years, our water will be too cold for soaking
3) this area has high recreational value and is not suited for industrial use (You can find pictures of the exact same size plant in Utah: Generating Geothermal )
We firmly believe that the BLM has made a major error in designating the 800 acres in question as open to mining operations. We feel we could be giving up a lot to gain very little.

What you can do
If you're interested in preserving both this uniquely beautiful bit of nature and the rural style of life it supports (one you may come to visit and enjoy), then you have to start taking action today.
1) Mark your calendar for Dec. 11th. While you're on the site right now, get out the Magic Marker and circle this date on your calendar! You'll need to return to Chaffee County Geothermal starting on Dec. 11th or 12th, then click the "Take Action!" page- we will have it changed to give you everything you'll need to write a brief letter of protest to the BLM by that day in December.
2) Forward this email to everyone in YOUR email contact list who lives here, has visited here (to show the area's importance as a recreational area), or who is just concerned with the notion of uniquely beautiful areas being assaulted by ill-advised industrial development. We would like you to move ahead with your forwarding efforts as soon as you can - that will give your friends time to check out the site and get a feel for the cause, and perhaps give THEM time to get things forwarded and so on. This is where the power of the internet can truly help challenge the power of bureaucracies.
3) Write a short letter of protest to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and put it in you mailbox after December 11th

The letters people send during the week of Dec. 14th will make or break this effort, we have good reason to believe that a very large letter response from you will make the BLM reconsider and actually back off from their plans. On Dec. 11th, the "Take Action!" page will provide you with all the talking points, addresses, and other details that will you could possibly need to put together a protest letter. But the BLM requires a real, snail-mail letter; THEY DO NOT ACCEPT EMAILS FOR LETTERS OF COMMENT OR PROTEST. You'll need to take a few minutes to write your own letter (with as much of our help as you want to use). We know that this is a busy holiday season, but we desperately need your help and the BLM sets the dates, not us! The BLM will not accept a "copy and paste" letter from you, but here’s what we can do - if you choose, you'd just need to personalize a sample letter we will post on Chaffee County Geothermal .

Our group of friends and neighbors all support geothermal energy as a truly wonderful clean source of energy. In this case, it's a bad idea that could actually make future geothermal development of other kinds in Colorado more difficult. We don't want that to happen. So please help stop a bad geothermal idea from hindering good geothermal ideas that we all can get behind.

Thanks, in advance, for taking the time to help!

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Old 12-10-2009   #2
 
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I thought Geothermal was still in the developing stages? I remember reading an article several years ago regarding the drilling of the wells to pump the water up or down and it was lubing up fracture zones and causing earthquakes, kind of like what the Army did to Denver back in the 50's or 60's.
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Old 12-10-2009   #3
 
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First Nestle, now this?!#@

Where exactly are they proposing to do this? I assume some where near the current hot springs but I do not know.
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Old 12-10-2009   #4
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Where exactly are they proposing to do this? I assume some where near the current hot springs but I do not know.
That is my assumption, but I just know it's in the Chalk Creek valley somewhere.
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Old 12-11-2009   #5
 
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It is set to be developed near the source of the Hortense hot springs, which is the feeder spring for Mt. Princeton, Lloyd's, and several other private hot springs in the immediate vicinity.
I took a geology course through CMC last year, and I have to say Dr. Fred Henderson is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. We discussed this entire project and they have found ways to prevent the water temperature from dropping. I believe this "plant" is going to be a benefit to the members of Chaffee county and the residents of the Chalk Creek Valley. The area in question is on private lands, and always has been owned privately, and the pipes are set to be installed underground. So I don't see anyway this is going to affect recreation (there is no recreation in the immediate area). I understand and agree that this could be done wrong, and that is why we do need to be involved in the process, but you shouldn't be so quick to block it. Dr. Henderson has been a resident of Chaffee County for over 30 years, owned property along Lake Creek's bottom 4, and originally opened the "Inn of the Black Wolf" at Twin Lakes, I feel he has the best interest of the community in mind, and is an open-minded individual who will listen to criticism and concerns.
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Old 12-11-2009   #6
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Maybe I'm confused by the "pipes going everywhere criss crossing the valley" language. The way I understand it the water is piped up from 2500 feet and then sent right back down and there is no lose or water or the need for the water to be piped anywhere.
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Old 12-11-2009   #7
 
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Interesting post. I had never heard of low temperature geothermal before this. Browsed through the protest site. Also did some digging around on the net to see what else was out there.

In my mind, low temp geothermal sounds like a pretty good deal. Its clean renewable energy, has low/no carbon emissions, has a smaller footprint than solar or wind, and close to cost competitive now (even more so when CO2 costs are accounted for). Add in the fact that low temp geothermal sites are abundant, and it seems like a very promising idea.

MIT did a study on US geothermal potential, and they found it very promising. The US department of energy is investing in geothermal as well. A big plus for geothermal is that it operates continuously and is steady as opposed to solar and wind, which fluctuate with time of day and atmospheric conditions. Proponents note that geothermal energy could be a very good clean baseline source of energy.

The statement that this lacks credible technology seems false to me. The principle of operation is the rankine cycle, which has been around for over 100 yrs, and is something that every undergrad thermodynamics student learns about. Its hard to argue with the laws of thermodynamics. The equipment used is basically an air conditioner in reverse. Its basic stuff... heat exchangers, turbines, pumps. As technology goes this is pretty run of the mill stuff. It sounds like the reason this is new is that no one tried hard enough to find a low enough cost way to get it to work economically until now. Not surprising given the history of our abundant hydrocarbon energy supply and use.

The note slams the Utah plant for under-performing, but it sounds like they are still in start up mode and not at full capacity. A better comparison might be the plant they are running successfully at a hot springs in Alaska. The hot springs is touting itself as a 100% green renewable energy hot springs. Funny how the same idea can be portrayed as damaging industrialism by people of a different mindset.

Check the Alaska set up here... Alaska has more geothermal resources than any other state in the country

I don't buy the argument that a geothermal plant is at odds with recreation. The plant would take up 10 acres (7.5 football fields). You can still climb the mountains, paddle the rivers and creeks, backpack in the wilderness, and ski in the backcountry. There are already roads and development up the chalk creek valley. I hear lots of people saying global warming will kill colorado's snowpack and make skiing and boating worse. Maybe embracing low carbon renewable energy is actually a way to improve recreation in the long run?

To me, the opposition sounds like NIMBYism at its finest. All for reasonable green renewable energy... unless its in my backyard. The world is collectively up in arms about global warming and CO2 emissions. The US energy supply is precariously dependent on oil supplies in hostile countries. Everyone knows we need to transition to clean domestic renewable energy, but when proposals to do so are made, its met with fierce local opposition and the story is the same every time... not in my backyard.

There is enough solar, wind, and geothermal energy in the US to completely power US if we want it, figure out a way to do it, and are willing to pay for it. To get there, there will be a windmill in sight at someones favorite beach or mountain, there will be massive sets of solar arrays on someones favorite prairie, and there will be geothermal plants in someones favorite valley. There are incredible benefits though: reduced CO2 emissions, reduced dependence on unstable foreign energy supplies, increased jobs in the US, reduced pollution, long term stability. Its simply the right way to go, we can do it by choice now, or out of necessity later, but it will be done.

NIMBY opposition is a stalemate to positive change. Change can happen, but it won't come for free, and it won't come without some sort of compromise. New technology development takes time and practice too. You don't get it perfect the first time, you make it better and better each step of the way. Solar and wind have made leaps and bounds, as focused engineering and investment yield cheaper costs and higher efficiency. The same learning curve will be needed for low temp geothermal and any other promising renewable energy sources.

If this works, Chaffee county (and a lot of other places) could eventually be powered 100% by clean renewable energy. To me, that sounds beautiful, not "forever for the worse". Sounds like a goal worth working towards to me.
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Old 12-11-2009   #8
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I lived in Fairbanks not far from Chena Hot Springs. Their green house operation is pretty slick.

Alaska has more geothermal resources than any other state in the country

Quote:
"During the winter of 2005, we experienced outside temperatures as low as -56°F. At the same time, we were able to maintain an interior greenhouse temperature of 78°F"
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Old 12-11-2009   #9
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As I've been swamped at work, I never really had a chance to research this. I just posted up the letter hoping some of you might have time to look into it. Since some of you have and I thank you, it sounds like maybe a case of, like Deepsouth says, NIMBY. I would just hate to see the hot springs in the area become warm springs over time. I wonder how much the water cools before they send it back down and if over time, the water coming up would be cooler than years earlier and if so, by how much.
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Old 12-12-2009   #10
 
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Sounds like a great idea to me.
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