Florida ag department provides biodiesel grants

By Kris Bevill | February 11, 2008
On Jan. 22, the Florida Department of Agriculture announced 12 recipients of $25 million in grants from the "Farm to Fuel" program, which is part of the 25x'25 initiative spearheaded by state Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson. The is designed to spur the state's agricultural industry to produce 25 percent of Florida's energy needs by 2025.

Grant recipients included Gulf Coast Energy of Walton LLC, which was awarded $7 million for the construction and operation of biodiesel and ethanol plants in Mossy Head, Fla. Gulf Coast Energy plans to begin construction of the $62 million project in the next few months and expects to begin producing biodiesel by the end of the year.

Agri-Source Fuels was awarded $4 million to be used toward the construction of a $21 million biodiesel plant in Pensecola. Company spokeswoman Peggy Matthews said the grant will be used specifically for equipment and will benefit the project greatly. Awarded funds were matched by company President Rick Higdon, the sole financial provider for Agri-Source. Initial site work has begun on the 18 MMgy plant, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Companies that received grant money are required to match the contribution with their own money or otherwise raised funds. Entities chosen for the grants are contributing more than $150 million of their own resources to these projects. "We're not looking to build our own state-funded ethanol or biodiesel plants, or completely fund other projects," said Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Jay Levenstein. "We like to be in a position where we can help out. I know from talking to some of these companies that funding like this really puts them over the top of the hill as far as being able to complete their projects."
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