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News Release

Release No. 0024.09
Contact:
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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USDA APPROVES FIRST EVER GUARANTEED LOAN FOR COMMERCIAL -SCALE CELLULOSIC ETHANOL PLANT

Funding for Wood-chip Plant Paves Way for Next Generation of Biofuels

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced today that USDA Rural Development has approved the first ever loan guarantee to a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The $80 million loan to Range Fuels Inc., Soperton, Ga., comes from the Section 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

"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 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. The program is designed to create energy-related jobs and economic development in rural America. The loan to Range Fuels is approved subject to conditions.

The project is expected to produce an estimated 63 jobs. When fully operational in 2010, the plant is expected to produce approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested more than $111 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 2 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.