Fwd: Christian Group Buys Geothermal Lease to Thwart Power Developers

Sigh try camping in a raging storm or blasting heatwave, guys. Is it christian to mislead with the name of the bidding co?

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Christian Group Buys Geothermal Lease to Thwart Power Developers
2010-11-11 22:06:45.845 GMT

By Andrew Herndon
Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Young Life, a Christian youth
ministry that operates 32 campgrounds around the world,
purchased Colorado's first lease for geothermal exploration
rights and has no plans to develop it.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management sold
the lease at auction for $29,600 to 3E Geothermal LLC, a Young
Life subsidiary, according to a statement yesterday.
Young Life said it purchased the lease to thwart energy
companies from building power plants near Frontier Ranch, one of
its three Colorado campsites. The sale is a setback for the
state, which has passed legislation to promote geothermal
"Obtaining this lease enables us to protect the natural
beauty of our camp's setting," Steve Lundgren, Frontier Ranch's
manager, said in an e-mailed statement. "We did not want to be
in a situation where other parties would have the ability to
scar the landscape that is so critical to giving our guests a
great camping experience." Young Life formed 3E expressly to
pursue the geothermal auction.
The 10-year lease covers an 800-acre parcel, most of which
is currently occupied by the ranch, Colorado Springs, Colorado-
based Young Life said. The land has more than 60 private owners,
while the subsurface mineral rights are administered by the BLM,
according to the agency's website.
Acquiring a lease is typically the first step for energy
companies pursuing geothermal projects on BLM-managed land.
Additional planning, environmental analysis and public input are
required before any drilling may begin.

Local Opposition

The lease site is also near the Mount Princeton Hot Springs
Resort. Some local residents have expressed concern in the past
that geothermal development in the area could adversely affect
the recreation area, according to BLM.
These concerns, in part, prompted BLM to defer its auction
for the site three times since September 2009.
Lundgren said Young Life sees its action as a way to "be a
good neighbor to those who have concerns about geothermal
development in the area."
Colorado is promoting renewable energy. Democratic Governor
Bill Ritter signed a bill in March increasing the state's
renewable portfolio standard to 30 percent by 2020. The law
requires 30 percent of investor-owned utilities' retail sales to
come from renewable resources.
Only California's requirement is more stringent, at
33 percent by 2020. While wind and solar energy capacity has
grown in Colorado since it became in 2004 the first in the
nation to establish a clean-power standard by ballot initiative,
the state does not have any geothermal power plants in
operation. A spokesman for the governor's energy office did not
return calls today.

Promoting Geothermal Energy

Ritter signed into law another bill in April aimed at
encouraging geothermal energy by simplifying the rules for
permitting and for acquiring access rights to private property.
The bill also created financial incentives for energy
companies and revised property tax rules, allowing developers to
avoid paying taxes on capital equipment before geothermal power
plants begin producing revenue.
State Senator Gail Schwartz, the Democratic sponsor of the
geothermal bill, said in May that geothermal energy has had
trouble getting off the ground in Colorado and the statute
provided "crucial incentives" to grow the industry. A
spokeswoman for Schwartz did not return calls today.
BLM said 49 percent of the proceeds from yesterday's lease
sale would go to state coffers.

More Leases Sought

BLM said an unnamed renewable energy company in January
2009 nominated for a lease sale two additional blocks of land
totaling 9,000 acres near the city of Gunnison. The agency is
seeking public comment on that proposal and could decide whether
to proceed by the first quarter of 2011, BLM spokeswoman Vanessa
Delgado said in an interview.
A geothermal energy producer on public lands is required
to pay 1.75 percent of gross proceeds in royalties for the first
10 years plus annual rent of $2 an acre, BLM said.
Leases not developed within 10 years become void.
"The state imposes a responsibility on the lease owner
that they must make a good faith effort to evaluate the
viability of geothermal resource production," Terry Swenson,
Young Life's spokesman, wrote in an e-mail. "While Young Life
does desire to protect the natural beauty of the land, we are
currently contemplating the most conscientious way of complying
with the requirement."

For Related News and Information:
Geothermal power stories: NI GEOTHERMAL <GO>
Most-read alternative energy stories: MNI ALTNRG <GO>
Top renewable-energy, environment page: GREEN <GO>

--Editors: Will Wade, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at +1-415-617-7184 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or