Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program has approved the first-ever loan guarantee to a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. Range Fuels Inc. of Soperton, Georgia will receive US$80 million from the 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,” said Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. “I visited the pilot plant last October and was excited to see how well the technology works.”

The Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels, which are not produced from food sources. The program provides loan guarantees, to a maximum of $250 million per project, to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing these fuels.

When fully operational in 2010, the plant is expected to produce approximately 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, and employ 63 people.

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