Digging deep for fast food energy
FRISCO – Dillon resident Danny Eilts officially broke ground on Wednesday on a new project which will use geothermal energy, a first for Summit County.The project, which will include a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, a Conoco gas station, a convenience store and a car wash in Frisco, is located next to First Bank on Summit Boulevard.Two drills are already digging 400-foot deep holes to plumb the earth’s heat to run the system. In all, 56 holes approximately 6 inches in diameter will be drilled at the site. Geothermal energy, around since the 1940s, is popular in the Midwest, but its use is not common in the High Country.
Terry Proffer of Major Geothermal in Wheat Ridge designed the system on Summit Boulevard. The system will heat or cool the fast food restaurant, convenience store and office space planned above the commercial uses in the two-story, 9,000-square-foot project. It will also cool the refrigeration systems, coolers and freezers, while heating water for the car wash. It will also be used for snowmelt on the property.After extracting thermal energy from the earth through the bore holes, the system transfers it via a heat pump and enclosed fluid circulation system. The water/antifreeze solution is heated by ground temperatures of about 47 degrees and transferred to the surface, where 5 to 6 degrees are stripped from the solution and turned into energy.For every gallon per minute of flow, the system can extract 40-80 BTUs of energy, which is used at various sites on the property.”This is not a well,” Proffer explained. “We use a high density polyurethane pipe so there’s no worry about contaminating the aquifer.”
Proffer said geothermal energy use is increasing in the region because of higher utility costs. While the system can be five times more expensive to install than traditional mechanical systems, the cost can be recouped in a few years through reduced energy bills.”There is almost no impact on the environment (through geo-thermal energy),” Proffer said. “It’s totally benign. There are no emissions and it doesn’t produce any carbon monoxide.”Energy bills can be reduced by 50 percent or more when geothermal energy is used at a commercial or residential property, Proffer said.In a separate system, one-third of the water used in the car wash will be recycled, said Kevin Faulkner, the general contractor and an investor in the project.
During the project’s approval process in February, the Frisco Planning Commission required developers to recycle water used in the car wash, despite complaints from the architect.”While geothermal energy has come a long way over the years, technology for recycling car wash water has not,” Faulkner said. “As the technology gets more user friendly, we’ll continue to upgrade the system and recycle more water.”Eilts also owns a Conoco station in Dillon, which he purchased from his father 14 years ago. The Frisco project is expected to be completed by December.Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at email@example.com.
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