RAPID/Geothermal/Colorado/Land Access

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Colorado Geothermal Land & Geothermal Resource Access(3-CO)

In order to develop geothermal resources on state land in Colorado, developers must gain legal access to the land by obtaining a lease and, any required rights-of-way (ROW) easements over state lands, including any necessary permits to encroach on existing state ROWs.

Colorado defines geothermal resources as: the natural heat of the earth, including:

  • The energy that may be extracted from that natural heat;
  • The material medium used to extract the energy from a geothermal resource; and
  • Geothermal by-products.

#"Geothermal by-products" means dissolved or entrained minerals and gases that may be obtained from the material medium, excluding hydrocarbon substances and carbon dioxide.

CRS 37-90.5-103(3).

The Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners also known at the Colorado State Land Board (CSLB) is responsible for the management and administration of geothermal resources contained in state land and is actively pursuing geothermal development on state trust land.

Geothermal Lease

Developers must submit a complete Geothermal Lease Application to the CSLB. The CSLB has authority to award geothermal leases through negotiation or by competitive bidding, but must allow for a thirty five day public notice period prior to issuance. CRS 37-90.5-105(1). However, projects on locally managed land (e.g. by a municipality) or land managed by other state agencies require a geothermal lease-type agreements with the applicable local entity or other state agency.

State Land Right of Way

If any portion of the project, such as roads, power lines, or pipelines, will cross over or occupy certain state land under the jurisdiction of the CSLB, the developer will need to obtain a right of way (ROW) lease by submitting a complete Application for Grant of Right of Way to the CSLB. CRS 36-1-136. All state ROW leases are subject to conditions imposed by the CSLB ( CRS 38-5-102) and are subject to local government permitting and zoning restrictions. Colorado - Colo. Const. Art. IX Sec. 10(1)(c).


If components of the project will encroach on existing state highway or other public ROWs, the developer must obtain permission from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) by submitting a CDOT - Utility/Special Use Permit Application in accordance with Rules and Similarly, if the project requires the construction or modification of access points on state highway ROWs, the developer must submit a CDOT - State Highway Access Permit Application.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Colorado Federal

Leasing Agency: Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners Bureau of Land Management
Competitive Land Leasing: Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners has authority to approve geothermal leases through competitive bidding.
Noncompetitive Land Leasing: Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners has authority to approve geothermal leases through non-competitive negotiation.