Grafton, ND, mulls a 5-acre greenhouseEconomic development officials in Grafton are looking for ways to get more use out of an underused power plant, with some saying it could power a five-acre hydroponic greenhouse.
By: Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service
GRAFTON, N.D. — Economic development officials in Grafton are looking for ways to get more use out of an underused power plant, with some saying it could power a five-acre hydroponic greenhouse.
David Holand, a Fargo, N.D., developer who has developed and owned large-scale citrus and other agricultural operations around the nation, says he’s interested.
“I’m just excited about this,” he says. “For years I’ve had an idea of doing a greenhouse project out of there. If we can generate the electricity, that would be huge. We’re talking a greenhouse that covers about two city blocks.”
Beyond tomatoes, cucumbers or other produce staples, he says the greenhouse also could produce specialty crops, perhaps in partnership with area research universities or natural food and vitamin manufacturers.
Electricity would come from the Life Skills and Transition Center’s coal- and gas-fired power plant, which operates at just 25 percent capacity as a result of three decades of downsizing.
To know whether using the power for a greenhouse is feasible, the Red River Regional Council is seeking a $26,587 state grant for a study. The state Agricultural Product Utilization Commission will consider the request, along with 10 others statewide when it meets July 22 in Medora.
The Grafton City Council’s economic development committee has approved $4,431 in matching funds for the study. The county Job Development Authority will consider the same amount later this month.
“The study is the crucial foundation,” says Dawn Keeley, regional council executive director. “We want to answer the questions of how can we benefit from this as a community, and how the state can benefit.”
The study would determine the feasibility of the greenhouse project, which would be built in the adjacent industrial park and estimated to employ 20. But it also would identify other uses.
For example, the power plant can provide the city of Grafton with about one-third of its emergency electrical needs and heat the industrial park.