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New West Daily Roundup for Dec. 2, 2016

Today in New West news: Bozeman to challenge FEMA floodplain designation, University of Wyoming receives $2.4M for carbon capture research, and Colorado data center company mulling sale.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the city is planning to challenge a recent study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency calling for parts of downtown to be designated a floodplain. You can see FEMA’s new floodplain designations below, which include City Hall and the Bozeman Hotel, courtesy of the Chronicle.

Bozeman FEMA draft plan

City officials say the designation will have an undue impact on property owners, since it changes insurance requirements and puts restrictions on development. From the Chronicle:

They’ve also asked engineers with Allied Engineering to study the possibility of upgrading a diversion structure near the Gallagator Trail so it can push Bozeman Creek floodwaters into Mill Ditch, where they would run by the city library instead of through downtown.

The FEMA study used good data but a “questionable methodology,” city engineer Brian Heaston told commissioners Monday evening.

More accurate mapping, in the downtown area in particular, will help ensure that only properties that are truly at risk have to pay for flood insurance and contend with floodplain development regulation, Heaston also said.

FEMA’s findings, first presented to city commissioners last winter, are an effort to update the 1980s-era floodplain maps that currently constrain development in areas that could be inundated in a once-in-100-year flood along Bozeman Creek.

While the previous maps had concluded floodwaters would generally sweep through Mill Ditch east of downtown, the update determined more water would head into the city core along Rouse Avenue and suggested portions of several downtown blocks be designated as floodplain.

City Commissioner Jeff Krauss added that some downtown properties, such as lots undeveloped since a 2009 gas explosion, could be left empty in light of the designation. Heaston added that the FEMA plan is currently a draft and is open to appeal from the city and private property owners.

Over in Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Business Report, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded nearly $2.4 million to the University of Wyoming to foster research into a pair of commercial carbon capture and storage projects slated for the future:

The department’s Office of Fossil Energy announced that UW is among 13 universities and other organizations selected to receive more than $44 million for cost-shared research and development. The funding is part of DOE’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) initiative, which helps mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The UW projects are a pre-feasibility assessment for secure, commercial-scale CO2 capture and storage at the Rock Springs Uplift in southwest Wyoming; and study of CO2 capture, transportation and storage opportunities at Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Dry Fork Power Station near Gillette.

Other recipients of CarbonSAFE funding include the University of Texas, the University of Utah, Columbia University, the University of Kansas and Louisiana State University.

“Carbon capture and storage will play a very important role as the world moves toward a lower-carbon economy,” said Lynn Orr, DOE’s undersecretary for science and energy. “The U.S. must continue a leadership role in the development and deployment of CO2 storage technologies as a key element of a diversified energy economy. The funding announced today through the CarbonSAFE initiative will help to address technical barriers to commercial-scale carbon storage as worldwide demand for these types of clean energy solutions continues to rise.”

Previous research by UW and other entities has identified the Rock Springs Uplift as an ideal location for carbon storage, with the potential to securely store more than 50 million metric tons of CO2 in the deep geological formation.

Finally, over in Colorado, according to the Denver Business Journal, citing a report from the Wall Street Journal, Denver-based data center operate Cologix Inc. may be looking to sell:

The report says that Barclays Bank PLC and DH Capital LLC are “leading the auction” for Cologix, and that bids could value the company at about $1.25 billion.

The WSJ cites unnamed “people familiar with the matter” in its report.

The Denver Business Journal has asked Cologix for a comment.

Coligix operates 24 data centers in several U.S. and Canadian markets, including Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Jacksonville and Lakeland, Florida; Minneapolis; northern New Jersey; Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

As the DBJ’s Greg Avery has reported, six-year-old Cologix was formed by a group of former telecom and Internet service executives who understand the importance of networks.

Its strategy has been to own data center buildings that sit on the most advantageous spot possible — a city’s main intersection where the national Internet backbone connects to local networks.

It’s a business of buying some of the most sought-after data center sites. The centers don’t sell often and can’t be replicated by building from scratch.

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