Issue Date: December 12, 2011
Another Energy Firm Fails
The Department of Agriculture is likely to lose $38 million due to the failure of Range Fuels, a biofuel start-up, that received a federal loan guarantee from the department. The guarantee was to aid the company in producing biofuels at its facility under construction in Georgia. Now, a foreclosure sale is set for the plant’s assets on Jan. 3, 2012, the USDA announced on Dec. 1. The sale marks the continuing difficulty in creating biofuels from cellulosic materials. Range Fuels’ goal was to produce cellulose-based biofuels, ethanol and methanol. However, the company produced only a small amount of methanol from wood chips before shutting down early this year. When the guarantee was announced, on Jan. 16, 2009, USDA said it was the “first-ever loan guarantee” to a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The Department of Energy also gave the company a $43 million grant, according to DOE officials. Although similar to the controversial DOE loan guarantee for Solyndra, the solar panel company under investigation by Republicans in Congress, the support Range Fuels received was through USDA and the George W. Bush Administration.
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