Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Biofuels Now More Viable Economically, Report Says

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Biofuels Now More Viable Economically, Report Says

Article excerpt

Higher petroleum fuel prices have increased the economic feasibility for more government support for the development of domestic alternative-energy supplies, according to a new report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the report on potential sources of energy for farms, pasture and forest lands last week.

We have seen ethanol production more than double in four years, said Mike Johanns, agriculture secretary. USDA is committed to encouraging the entrepreneurial innovation of America's farmers and ranchers to help build a new energy economy.

Domestic alternative-fuel production in 2005 included 4 billion gallons of ethanol and 91 million gallons of biodiesel, according to USDA.

Energy-related costs currently account for 15 percent of agriculture expenditures, according to the report. Agricultural energy-related expense estimates for 2006 total $30 billion, up 50 percent since 2003.

The report's recommendations include expanding federal support for renewable energy, extending renewable energy tax credits to 2015 or later, providing accelerated depreciation on renewable energy equipment and facility investment, and expanding financial support to help develop the bio-based economy.

Private-sector firms engaged in development of the bioeconomy indicate the need for public-sector support beyond grants, loans and loan guarantees, such as some form of equity funding that could be leveraged with their own equity and debt financing, the report said.

Interest in ethanol and biodiesel production has been increasing in Oklahoma.

An equity campaign is currently under way to raise money for a $90 million ethanol plant proposed in Enid. The campaign is expected to continue through Sept. 1.

Our goal is to raise $14 million from 499 investors by Sept. 1, said Terry Detrick, chairman and president of Oklahoma Sustainable Energy.

Construction is expected to begin in October and take about one year. Another month will be needed to get the plant online after it is completed, he said. …

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