Power plant that grows tomatoes could bring 120 jobs to Dallas, Ore.
By Mason Walker, Associate editor
A $60 million gas-fired power plant proposed in Dallas, Ore., would also feature a hydroponic greenhouse that will grow tomatoes and cucumbers year round.
A $60 million project proposed in Dallas, Ore., will produce natural gas-fired electricity, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and — if it evolves as planned — 120 permanent jobs.
Dubbed the Willamette Green Innovation Center, the project meets the definition of a co-generation plant, a facility that at once produces two types of usable energy simultaenously — in this case electricity and heat. As proposed, it would burn natural gas to produce electricity for the grid while capturing waste heat and CO2 to benefit the onsite hydroponic greenhouse.
The power plant will consist of two 4.36-megawatt natural gas turbines built by General Electric Co., similar to the ones being used in a similar project that just turned on in Camarillo, Calif.
Matt Bergeron, a development partner on the project, expects the facility to create 120 permanent jobs in the Polk County town just west of Salem, with most located in the greenhouse operation. The team is currently waiting on a potential European investor to complete a due diligence process before securing the $60M needed to move forward.
The project's developers have lined up a power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp under the Portland-based utility's Qualified Facility program for co-generation plants under 10 megawatts.
In addition to power generation, a new 35-acre hydroponic greenhouse will be constructed to grow tomatoes and cucumbers year-round. A five-year deal has been signed with Village Farms of New Jersey to purchase everything that the facility can grow.
Bergeron and his team don't plan to initially seek organic certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the produce. Nonetheless, they still intend to grow it without the use of pesticides and could still seek the organic certification once the facility is functioning smoothly.
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