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City begins greenhouse feasibility study

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A $40,000 Missouri Department of Natural Resources grant will allow Springfield to examine the feasibility of using waste heat and electric power from the Noble Hill Landfill Renewable Energy Center to increase food grown locally, according to a city of Springfield news release.

City Council approved the grant application in June, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage.

The Springfield Solid Waste Management Division's enterprise fund is providing $20,000 toward the study, the release said.

The study aims to examine the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of using the renewable energy center to heat, cool and power a commercial greenhouse located on nearby property, according to the news release.

Superintendent of Solid Waste Management Ted O'Neill said in a phone interview the study began early this month and is expected to be completed by July 2011, due to what he says is a rigorous 12-month time table.

"I think there's very little doubt there's a market for locally grown produce in this region," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said the Missouri State University William H. Darr School of Agriculture currently is performing a marketing study to determine what produce can be marketed in the region. The city is also in the process of hiring a consultant to evaluate the necessary technology to power the greenhouse, he said.

Following the completion of the feasibility study, there will be a public and stakeholder input process and the creation of a business development plan, O'Neill said.

If the study is determined to be feasible and there is a consensus, a private-sector grower would be chosen for the design and construction process. O'Neill said the estimated date for completion of the greenhouse is summer 2012.

The Noble Hill Landfill Renewable Energy Center, which began delivering electricity in May 2006, harnesses methane gas produced by the adjacent Springfield sanitary landfill - about nine miles north of Springfield - and converts it into energy, according to its Web site.

If the greenhouse is built, results are expected to increase locally grown food, add economic activity in the area and create new jobs, the release said.

"It could provide our region's colleges and universities a unique hands-on training center to help grow new 'green jobs' and small businesses to support our region's sustainable agriculture and economic growth," Anson Elliott, head of the Darr School of Agriculture, said in the release.

The DNR grant is one of 17 similar grants made throughout the state, according to the release.[[In-content Ad]]

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