Garfield County completes new master plan for energy

A new document lays out the many and varied energy resources available in Garfield County and outlines what constraints can limit their development.

The county’s new energy master plan was inspired in part by a similar project undertaken in Mesa County and makes use of data from existing sources to put together a comprehensive inventory of resources. It lists 11 energy resources, from natural gas and coal to geothermal and wind, along with one non-energy natural resource, gravel/aggregate.

“Garfield County is blessed to have all of these in varying quantities,” said Erin Degutis of TRC, the company that prepared the document, when speaking to Garfield commissioners last week.

The plan also looks at physical and regulatory limitations on resource development, from water bodies and steep terrain to wilderness designations and air quality issues. Its executive summary notes how the county has benefited from a balance between energy development and other amenities such as wilderness areas and trails, tourism, and quality of life in rural and agricultural areas.

The plan layers limitations on top of resource maps and indicates the number of constraints by color, ranging from green for a minimal number to red for a maximum.

“Natural gas, there’s a lot of green there, but there’s also some moderate constraints as well,” Degutis said.

Garfield’s gas resource is one of the most developed of its energy resources, with more than 10,000 active wells in the county.

Degutis also said solar energy shows a high potential in the central part of the county.

According to the executive summary, the energy resource and constraint maps “provide a foundation in which the County is able to develop energy resource development policies that can direct development of energy resources in context to existing natural resources and regulatory constraints. It also provides the County with data that can be developed for further analysis in the event that a proposed state or federal policy or regulation may affect a natural resource located in the County or energy resource development on publicly managed lands.”

County Commissioner Mike Samson said, “I can just see where this is going to be a great tool for us.”

The plan suggests a second project phase that includes creating a user-friendly, publicly available tool for citizens, landowners and energy developers.

“The information could be used to enhance energy resource development as well as identify areas or natural resources that may need protection from potential impacts or effects,” the plan says.


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