A man who says he can use geothermal heat to produce as much as 40,000 pounds of tomatoes in one day and provide jobs in a depressed, rural Utah area, still hopes to obtain some state money for the project.
Ron Ford lost a bid earlier this year for $1.9 million from the State Energy Office. The project was one of 54 vying for $2 million made available for energy projects.But Ford said he still hopes to receive $750,000 from money the office received through court settlements between the federal government and various oil companies. That money also must be used for energy projects.
"The problem we find is that bank financing is difficult in southern Utah," Ford said.
He and fellow-developer Scott Romney have proposed to build their project in Kanosh, Millard County. They want to use geothermal heat created by a nearby power plant to regulate the temperature in a large greenhouse. The men own a similar facility in Rifle, Colo.
"This energy would just go into the sky and be wasted, otherwise," Ford said.
He estimated the project would cost $2.4 million. In addition to the Energy Office money, Ford wants $285,000 from Millard County and hopes to secure $1.2 million from a bank. The men would provide $200,000 of their own money.
Ford says the project would provide up to 100 full-time jobs in Millard County paying between $6 and $10 an hour.
State economic development officials support the project, although they estimate it would provide only about 40 jobs.