The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Range Fuels, Inc., a Colorado based firm with a planned biorefinery located near Soperton, Ga., is the recipient of a loan guaranteed by USDA Rural Development to make cellulosic biofuel from wood chips.

The deal, recently finalized, was first announced last year and represents the first ever loan guarantee by USDA to a commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant. This project is expected to provide biorefinery jobs, construction jobs and support the timber industry.

The $80 million loan, being made by AgSouth Farm Credit to Range Fuels, Inc., is being guaranteed through USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and administered by USDA Rural Development. When fully operational, the plant is expected to produce an estimated 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. USDA announced a conditional commitment to provide the loan guarantee for Range Fuels in January, 2009.

USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels — defined as fuels derived from renewable biomass other than corn kernel starch. 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. To learn more, please visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/baplg9003.htm.

USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $130 billion in loans and loan guarantees.