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US (WY): Vertical Harvest gets $300K loan for LEDs and climate computer

The town of Jackson will lend $300,000 to Vertical Harvest to improve energy efficiency at the group’s planned three-story greenhouse. The funds will be used for, among other things, LED growing lights and a “climate computer” to regulate temp­erature, according to documents filed with the town. The improvements are supposed to reduce heat loss from the building and increase crop yield.

The goal of the greenhouse is to extend Jackson’s short vegetable grow­ing season and provide jobs for people with disabilities. The loan is being made at no interest. It will be repaid in $2,083 monthly installments over 12 years.

The Town Council approved the loan at a meeting last Monday, after the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project recom­mended it earlier this month. The Jackson-Teton County energy board consists of town and county elected officials as well as members of the public.

The money for the loan comes from specific purpose excise tax money OK’d by voters in 2010. Those funds were earmarked to pay for energy conser­vation measures for public buildings. Other projects have included adding solar panels to town buildings such as Town Hall and the Home Ranch Welcome Center.

The greenhouse qualifies for the funds because it will actually be built and owned by the town. Vertical Harvest, which is a registered “low-profit” company, will lease the space and operate the business. The green­house will be built on a narrow piece of town land between West Simpson Avenue and the South side of the town parking structure.

Another $15,000 from the same tax money was spent on an energy study of the greenhouse plans.

The project was made possible through a $1.5 million grant from the state. Total construction costs are estimated at about $1.8 million. Verti­cal Harvest founders are coming up with the remaining $300,000.

The grant money was given the final OK by the State Loan and Investment Board after the project received a narrow approval from the Wyoming Business Council in May.

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