New York Governor Announces $25 Million to Develop Cellulosic Ethanol Facilities

December 20, 2006

New York has awarded $25 million to Mascoma Corporation and Catalyst Renewables Corporation to build pilot commercial cellulosic ethanol facilities, Governor George Pataki announced December 20. The companies involved will match the state grants, making $50 million available for the development and construction efforts.

Mascoma Corporation will build a 500,000-gallon-per-year facility in the Town of Greece, Monroe County. This project, which is a collaborative effort with Genencor, an enzyme company in Greece, along with Clarkson University, Cornell, and Khosla Ventures, has been awarded a $14,800,000 state grant and will include more than $15 million in private investment.

Mascoma Corporation is a recently formed company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that specializes in cellulosic ethanol technology. The proposed facility will use paper wastes from International Paper’s Ticonderoga plant in Essex County and wood chips from a St. Lawrence County supplier to make the cellulosic ethanol. The company will eventually employ a range of New York feedstocks to produce ethanol.

The other award recipient is Catalyst Renewables Corporation, a Dallas, Texas-based renewable energy company that currently owns two biomass-to-energy plants in New York. The company will receive $10,345,673 in state funding to build a 130,000-gallon-per-year. biorefinery adjacent to the company’s existing wood-to-energy plant in Lyonsdale, Lewis County. The State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) also will conduct research at the Lyonsdale facility in cooperation with the engineering firm of O’Brien & Gere and New Energy Capital, one of the nation’s leading renewable energy venture capital companies.

The facility will use low-grade timber from surrounding North Country forests, as well as willow grown on nearby agricultural lands, to produce cellulosic ethanol, electricity, and other bio-based energy products. SUNY-ESF and Catalyst previously received $60,000 from the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to initiate the nation’s first commercial willow plantation in the Tug Hill area of Jefferson County.

"Cellulosic energy has significant potential to not only meet our growing energy needs, but also boost our economy and agriculture sector as well, and create new jobs here in the Empire State," the governor said in the December 20 press release.

Dr. Larry Walker, Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, said the project will significantly expand New York State’s capacity to address biological and engineering barriers to commercialization of cellulosic ethanol production.

Peter R. Smith, President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), said, "The construction of facilities of this kind will enhance the opportunities for new business and the agricultural and forestry sectors in the Empire State, as well as foster partnerships with some of the state’s top universities."

The projects are expected to create 48 permanent jobs, with the potential for additional job creation in the years ahead. It is anticipated that the facilities will create new markets for 45 tons of biomass per day, generating approximately $10 million in the local economies over the next 3 years.

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