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State gets behind eco-friendly tomato farm in Mona

Published March 13, 2014 3:58 pm

Economic development • Houweling's Tomatoes to tap power plant for heat, CO2.
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The state is offering a $4.6 million incentive to a tomato-growing company to build a 28-acre "greenhouse farm" in Juab County that will employ 280 people and fuel its operations partly with waste heat from a nearby power plant.

Houweling's Tomatoes plans to invest $79 million in a two-phase development adjacent to Rocky Mountain Power's Currant Creek power plant in Mona.

"What a great possibility — to take heat that would go into the air and to produce tomatoes with it 365 days a year," company president Casey Houweling told the Governor's Office of Economic Development board after it signed off unanimously on the 20-year incentive package.

This will be the third greenhouse farm Canadian-based Houweling's has opened, the others covering 125 acres in Southern California and 50 acres in British Columbia.

Like its forerunners, the Mona farm will use advanced climate control technology, Houweling said. But this facility will use excess heat created at the Currant Creek plant to warm the greenhouses and carbon dioxide captured from the power plant's stacks to fertilize the tomatoes.

"As far as we are aware, this is the first commercial-scale operation in the world that will pull both heat and CO2 directly from a power provider," he added.

"It is encouraging to see a company come to Utah that is innovating and implementing eco-friendly operations," GOED Executive Director Spencer Eccles said in a news release.

Juab County has courted Houweling's for more than a year, seeking the 280 jobs projected to yield $268 million in new state wages over the 20-year life of the incentive.

County Commissioner Rick Carlton said he was exhilarated that an intricate deal could be worked out between the company, the utility, the state and the county.

"Hard work over the last year to bring this innovative farm to Juab County demonstrates impressive proof [that] communities and businesses can have both economic success and environmental sustainability," he said.

The state's $4.6 million, post-performance tax incentive amounts to about 25 percent of the $18.2 million in state taxes Houweling's Tomatoes is projected to pay in the first two decades of the farm's operation.

In addition, GOED agreed to provide a $500,000 grant from its Industrial Assistance Fund to reimburse Juab County for the cost of bringing water and other infrastructure to the site. The board also set aside $300,000 in training grants for future farm employees.

"It's great to see the kind of support we have here," Houweling said, noting Oregon lobbied hard for the farm.


Twitter: @sltribmikeg —

Rural grants

To help small companies grow and add more jobs outside of the urban Wasatch Front, the Governor's Office of Economic Development board approved three "Rural Fast Track" grants Tuesday:

Young's Machine Co. in Monticello will get $50,000 toward the purchase of a $128,000 crane to help manufacture electric trucks used in underground mines, creating two new jobs;

Custom Signworks in Nephi will receive $30,200, half the cost of an automatic textile press that will let the company pursue more work on school and recreation uniforms — and add one job; and

M.R. Wilde and Sons of Morgan will get $13,500 to buy a $27,000 compost spreader and add one employee.




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