USDA Rural Development has approved a guaranteed loan to Range Fuels Inc. of Soperton, Ga. for a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced the $80 million loan that is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill under the Biorefinery Assistance Program. This is the first ever loan for a commercial cellulosic plant.
"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. USDA is proud to work with the private sector to lead this important breakthrough in renewable energy production."
The BAP is designed to create energy-related jobs and economic development in rural America by promoting the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels. The project is expected to create 63 jobs and should produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year once the plant is fully operational sometime in 2010.