This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 28, 2010

USDA Proposes Rules for Three Biofuels Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 16 invited public comment on proposed rules for three programs that are designed to increase the U.S. production of advanced biofuels. The proposed rules for the Biorefinery Assistance Guaranteed Loans would establish guaranteed loan regulations to develop commercial-scale biorefineries and to retrofit existing facilities using an eligible technology. Under the proposal, there would be a rolling application process for loan guarantees, with loans capped at $250 million and covering no more than 80% of the total eligible project costs. For Repowering Assistance Payments to Eligible Biorefineries, the USDA is proposing to make payments to eligible biorefineries that install new biomass energy systems to displace fossil fuels. The USDA is calling for eligible biorefineries to receive a payment equal to 50% of the cost of installing eligible systems, with a cap at $5 million. Finally, under the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, the USDA is proposing to establish a payment program for eligible producers of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, excluding corn kernel starch. Comments on the proposed rules must be received by June 15. See the USDA press release and the proposed rules for the Biorefinery Assistance Guaranteed Loans (PDF 215 KB), the Repowering Assistance Payments (PDF 96 KB), and the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program (PDF 1.3 MB), as published in the April 16 edition of the Federal Register. Download Adobe Reader.

The USDA also announced on April 22 an initiative designed to help agricultural producers transition to more energy efficient operations. This initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits. Approximately 1,000 energy audits in 29 states will be funded with $2 million provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in fiscal year 2010. The energy audits will be individually tailored to ensure coverage of each farm's primary energy uses, such as milk cooling, irrigation pumping, heating and cooling of livestock production facilities, manure collection and transfer, grain drying, and other common on-farm activities. Participating states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. See the USDA press release.