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Energy facility could heat greenhouse, too

DALLAS -- Energy -- and tomatoes -- could be the product of a "cogeneration" facility proposed for Dallas.

October 03, 2012

DALLAS -- Energy -- and tomatoes -- could be the product of a "cogeneration" facility proposed for Dallas.

The project, which is in its beginning stages, would build a natural gas-fueled power plant, which would burn the gas to create electricity. The heat and emissions from the plant would be captured and used to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in a greenhouse.

The project could potentially bring 120 jobs to Dallas, mostly in the gigantic greenhouse proposed as part of the facility, said Jason Locke, Dallas community development director.

Interim City Manager Jon Nelson said nothing is scheduled to go before the city's planning commission at this time.

"But it does sound like an exciting project," Nelson said.

Backers are still securing financing for the proposal, said project partner Matt Bergeron.

The same group that proposed a biomass facility for Dallas in 2010, Clear Lake Capital, is behind the project.

The biomass plant would have used plant-based agricultural and forestry waste to generate electricity. A citizens committee was formed to study the feasibility of such a project in town, but the proposal didn't pencil out financially.

"Energy rates were relatively low," Bergeron said of the biomass plant. "It wasn't as economically feasible. The economics of this (new) project can stand on it's own."

Locke said while the new proposed facility would generate power, it would also have a second objective -- agriculture.

"This is a completely different project, not just energy," Locke said. "It's a greenhouse. ... It will be 40 acres under a roof. You see a lot of these in Europe. You don't see a lot of them in the United States, but they are becoming more and more common."

Sustainable Business Oregon reported developers would need $60 million to launch the project, which would consist of two 4.36 megawatt natural gas turbines and a greenhouse where hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers would be raised.

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