In one of his last official acts as Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer announced today that USDA Rural Development has approved the first ever loan guarantee to a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant.
Under the Biorefinery Assistance Program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA will provide an $80 million loan to Range Fuels of Soperton, Georgia. When fully operational in 2010, the plant is expected to produce approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from wood and dedicated energy crops.
“The investment in this facility – which will make cellulosic ethanol from wood chips – has the potential to significantly advance the timetable for second generation ethanol production in this country,” Schafer said. “I visited the pilot plant last October and was excited to see how well the technology works. The funding announced today helps the Bush administration fulfill its commitment to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by developing alternative, renewable energy sources.”
The Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels – defined as fuels that are not produced from food sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project.