USDA Announces Funding for Biorefinery Projects

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $405 million in guarantee loans for three biorefinery projects in the southeast under the Biorefinery Assistance Program. The three projects are located in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

“We believe it’s critical and crucial to develop a biofuel industry powered by feedstocks produced in every corner of the country,” said Vilsack during a conference call to announce the loan guarantees.

In rural western Alabama, Coskata, Inc. has received a letter of intent for a $250 million loan guarantee to construct and operate a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery facility. This 55-million gallon-per-year renewable biofuel project will use woody biomass to produce ethanol.

In Pontotoc, Miss., Enerkem Corporation has been selected to receive an $80 million loan guarantee to build and operate a biorefinery that will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of advanced biofuel (cellulosic ethanol) per year by refining some 100,000 metric tons of dried and post-sorted municipal solid waste through a thermo-chemical cellulosic process.

In Vero Beach, Fla., the INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, LLC. has been selected to receive a $75 million loan guarantee to construct and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 million gallons-per-year of cellulosic ethanol and gross electricity production capacity of 6 MW. The feedstock for the process will include primarily vegetative waste (citrus and agricultural wastes), yard wastes, wood waste, and municipal solid waste.

When asked about Range Fuels in Georgia, which has received USDA loan guarantees but is having to shut down due to lack of additional investment, Vilsack said he is hopeful that the company will work through the technology issues that are causing investment concerns. “Our efforts along with the energy department’s efforts are really designed to prime the pump,” Vilsack said. “The fact that we’re making these announcements today in a variety of states across the country indicates our belief that this industry is here to stay.”

Vilsack also announced investments to study renewable energy feasibility in rural communities and payments to eligible producers to expand production of advanced biofuels.

Listen to or download Vilsack’s press conference here: Tom Vilsack on Biofuels Projects

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