Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced a loan guarantee to Chemtex Internationall to construct a 20 million gal/year cellulosic ethanol refinery in Sampson County in eastern North Carolina.
The project, a first-of-its-kind commercial facility in the mid-Atlantic region, will help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, increase farm income, and create jobs in the region, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.
Todays announcement supports the Obama administrations all-of-the-above energy strategy to embrace alternative American-produced feedstocks that support our nation's energy independence and provide jobs in rural areas, said Vilsack.
At USDA, we are focused on the production of renewable energy from a wide variety of non-food sources, including energy grasses, he continued.
The facility we are announcing today will help create more than 300 jobs in North Carolina and is a perfect example of how producing home-grown energy is good for the economy and good for our energy future.
The Chemtex facility is expected to create 65 full time jobs with estimated average salaries of more than $48,000/year, the USDA said.
An additional 250 indirect jobs are also anticipated in areas such as feedstock supply, maintenance, and transportation.
Once operational, the facility is expected to convert 600,000 tpy of energy grasses into an estimated 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol (advanced biofuel) using a proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis process.
The plant will produce biofuels for eastern transportation markets using non-food biomass feedstocks.
The USDA approved a $99 million, 80% loan guarantee to finance the project. The loan guarantee approval is subject to conditions that Chemtex must meet prior to closing of the loan.