An onsite energy project at Houweling’s Tomatoes has qualified for a power purchase agreement with California utilities under the state’s Assembly Bill 1613.
The bill enables cogeneration facilities to sell excess power to utilities. Criteria include waste reduction, a minimum efficiency of 60% and nitrogen oxide emissions no greater than 0.07 pounds per megawatt hour.
Delta, British Columbia-based Houweling’s has 125 greenhouse acres in Camarillo, Calif. The combined heat and power project there went online in August 2012.
Since then, generation capacity has risen from 8.8 to 13.2 megawatts.
Qualification under the state’s Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act — more widely known as Assembly Bill 1613 — was effective Nov. 1.
It’s the first such project to meet the criteria, according to the company. The project recaptures waste heat and uses it to heat greenhouses at night. Carbon dioxide exhaust is used for plant fertilization.
“We made the decision to move forward with the first U.S. greenhouse farm (combined heat and power) installation without the certainty of a power purchase agreement,” Casey Houweling, chief executive officer of Houweling’s Tomatoes, said in a news release. “It was a huge risk, but at the end of the day I believe in this technology and know it was the right thing to do.”
“There has been no shortage of red tape to cut, reams of paperwork to navigate and countless meetings to get us to this stage,” Houweling said. “While it hasn’t been easy, today we are operating a 13.2 megawatt installation that significantly reduces our environmental impact while increasing our ability to grow and harvest year-round, locally grown, California tomatoes.”
Houweling’s worked with Southern California Edison, Western Energy, GE Distributed Power and Southern California Gas through the process.
The company’s Delta, British Colombia, operation consists of 50 greenhouse acres.