Range Fuels Gets USDA Loan Guarantee for Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

In one of the last decisions by outgoing Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development wing approved its first-ever loan guarantee for a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The $80-million outlay to Range Fuels, Inc. of Soperton, Georgia, comes under a BioRefinery Assistance Program (BAP) provision of the 2008 Farm Bill, which was initiated to promote the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels - specifically fuels that are not produced from food sources. Aimed at creating create energy-related jobs and economic development in rural America, BAP is empowered to guarantee loans of up to $250 per project to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels.

Although the loan does carry performance conditions, the Range Fuels facility is expected to create over 60 jobs and be able to turn out approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year when it goes online in 2010. According to Shafer, the 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."

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