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Rico Geothermal System Would Have High Price Tag, Study Says

Austin Cope

There is hot water under the town of Rico, but using it for geothermal development would be expensive.

That’s according to scientists from the Colorado School of Mines who presented results from their summer-long study in Rico on Thursday night. Geologist Paul Morgan and economist Becky Lafrancois studied the geologic and financial aspects of a possible hot springs resort, commercial greenhouse operation, and downtown heating system. Morgan said all three options were feasible based on the temperature, depth, and quality of the water, but the cost of drilling and infrastructure would be steep. Lafrancois estimated start-up costs for all three options at more than $500,000. She said yearly profits would not outweigh annual operating costs unless the town charged extraordinarily high prices, such as $6.42 for a head of lettuce from the greenhouse. Rico’s town board has considered geothermal development as an option for economic growth, and convened a geothermal committee to seek more information. Committee member Matt Downer said after the meeting that the community will digest the findings and decide how to proceed.

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