For the past several months, grants and incentives have been released to help keep the biofuels industry moving forward and successful. One set of programs that were launched through the stimulus package gave $1.7 billion dollars for business and industry loan guarantees – but very few are taking advantage of this program. This according to Dallas Tonsager, keynote speaker during the 22nd Ethanol Conference & Trade Show, and Under Secretary for Rural Development with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA).
Under this program businesses are eligible for working capital refinancing, machinery and equipment, real estate and construction, business development, and expansion. Also under this initiative, USDA Rural Development will consider loan term adjustments as part of a comprehensive business stabilization strategy including adjustments in interest rates, principal reduction and loan terms.
According to Tonsager, another action item of his department is to implement the renewable energy provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill. In addition to the $1.7 billion mentioned above, these provisions provide another $1 billion in funding. In addition, the American Recovery Act funding provides $11 billion to develop a smarter grid, $6.3 billion for state and local renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts, and $600 million in green job training. Tonsager pointed out that updating technologies at current ethanol plants that will increase the plants energy efficiencies qualify for this funding.
The funds will expire on September 30, 2010 so the time is now to learn more about them, and Tonsager encourages people to contact their local state office. You can see pictures from Tonsager’s presentation as well as pictures from the entire conference in our Flickr photo album.