Your Evening News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Customer Airs Concerns About Glenwood Hot Springs

Garfield County officials are not asking the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge to change sanitary measures after a bacteria complaint.

Last summer, the therapy pool at the hot springs tested positive for a bacteria that isn’t regulated by the state or federal government. It’s one of the causes of hot tub rash, but is dangerous only for people with weaker immune systems, like cancer patients. Josh Williams is Garfield County environmental health manager and explains his review of the hot springs’ regular efforts to keep facilities clean.

“I mean their monitoring and tracking of that is above and beyond the required testing is for bacterial contamination. Which is a good indicator that they take it very seriously,” says Josh Williams.

The possible issue of bacteria recently came to light after a local resident this past fall complained of ongoing severe intestinal sickness. She publicly complained this week, saying government officials aren’t doing enough to prevent it from happening again. Garfield County says the bacteria is naturally occurring, though also the leading cause of hospital infections. Aspen Public Radio is waiting for comment from the Glenwood Hot Springs.

Aspen in Running for Cash Prize in Energy Efficiency

An Aspen group, including the City of Aspen, is a semi-finalist to win a $5 million award for efforts in energy efficiency. Aspen is competing against 49 other U.S. communities for the prize.

The towns are vying for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The goal is to achieve the greatest reductions in electricity and natural gas usage in residential and municipal settings. That’s over the next two years.

The City of Aspen is working with Holy Cross Energy, SourceGas and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency. Ryland French is the City’s Utilities Efficiency Specialist. He says Aspen already has a rebate and energy assessment program. To win the prize, additional efforts will roll out.

“To really compete in this program we’re going to have to one, ramp up participation and two, start a few new programs to really reach out to the residential energy users in Aspen and help them save energy in ways that we haven’t in past years.”

The award is aimed at small and medium-sized communities. Two other Colorado cities in the running are Fort Collins and Brighton.

Natural Gas Slowing in Garfield County

The largest natural gas company in Garfield County is slowing its operations. WPX Energy announced last week that it’s “hitting the pause button” because of low natural gas prices.

WPX wrote on its blog that low oil and natural gas prices are good for consumers filling up a vehicle or paying a heating bill, but it’s tough for companies like theirs.

WPX is the largest natural gas producer in Colorado with 4,500 producing wells in the Piceance Basin, where New Castle, Rifle and Parachute are located.

Company spokesman Jeff Kirtland says the slowdown means the the company won’t produce natural gas from 20 new wells.

“The lower commodity pricing is affecting what we can do. Last year natural gas prices were over $4 and now we’re seeing $3 or less,” he says.

The price of natural gas has slid because of a mild winter and gas being produced all over the country.

David Ludlam of the West Slope Oil and Gas Association says WPX isn’t the only operator slowing down. Activity in the Piceance Basin, he says, has been modest since 2009.

“It’s important to remember that at one time the Piceance had nearly 100 rigs going and at the end of last year we were around 15. We expect to be down somewhere around that 3 to 5 range with what’s going on right now,” Ludlam says.

He says the slowdown is a short-term challenge. When prices go back up, he’s confident production will too.

WPX says it’s not going anywhere. While the company hasn’t released its capital expenditures plan for 2015, Kirtland says the Piceance is one of its core basins.

“Certainly we have a tremendous long-term value here. There are thousands of wells that can still be drilled in the Piceance Basin, so we’ll continue to monitor those commodities so that we can start the work again,” he says.

The heart of the Basin is in Garfield County, but the formation stretches from Delta and Gunnison counties north to the Wyoming border.