Two Texas energy firms have recently announced, separately, plans to build ethanol facilities in the same Texas Panhandle city.

White Energy Hereford LLC has filed for its air permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to build a 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Hereford. The plant is scheduled to be ready for operations by late 2006, and will create 38 full-time jobs and support an additional 650 jobs.

Trey White, general partner of White Ventures, said the company plans to build three 100 million gallon ethanol plants in the United States over the next three years.

Dallas-based Panda Group also revealed its intention to build a $120 million ethanol plant in Hereford, one that could pump as much as 100 millions of the alternative fuel annually.

Hereford’s reputation as the cattle capitol of the world, with logistical ties to more than one million head of cattle and 100,000 dairy cows within a 100-mile radius, played a key role in Panda’s decision-making. The proposed Panda plant will rely on converting manure and cotton gin waste to bio-gas to operate the plant’s power, as opposed to using natural gas.

Both companies’ announcements come on the heels of the passage of an energy bill in the House of Representatives, now awaiting final approval in the Senate. Part of that proposed bill requires refiners to increase ethanol usage up to 5 billion gallons by 2012.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents ethanol producers, there are currently 16 new plants under construction and two existing ones are undergoing expansion.