Project to create 300 construction and 700 direct and indirect jobs USDA approves $250 million loan guarantee for Coskata to build biorefinery in Boligee

Coskata’s demonstration biorefinery plant located in Madison, Pennsylvania which is an operating prototype for the facility to be built in Greene County. This facility has been operating for a year testing the company’s processes, equipment, and operations. The Greene County plant will be 50 times as large as the demonstration plant and will be a model for future facilities

By John Zippert

The United States Department of Agriculture has given conditional approval to a $250 million loan guarantee which will allow Coskata Inc., a privately held Illinois company, to build a biorefinery in the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, Alabama.
The guarantee will be the largest ever awarded for a biofuel facility, and will allow the Coskata supported facility to move forward with financing the construction of a 55 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in Greene County, Alabama.
Danny Cooper, Chair of the Board of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority said, “We are very excited about this project. We have been working with Coskata and many state and local agencies for over two years in their plans to develop this cutting edge flexible and renewable fuel facility in Greene County, at our industrial park in Boligee.”
“Today’s announcement by the USDA sends a clear message about the Administration’s commitment to advanced biofuels, and provides further validation that Coskata’s technology is ready for commercial scale,” said William Roe, CEO of Coskata, Inc. “This is a critical first step that will facilitate Coskata working with the USDA, and proceeding to raise the balance of the capital needed for the project.”
The facility is currently the largest planned cellulosic ethanol facility in the country and is expected to bring approximately 300 construction jobs and 700 direct and indirect jobs to Boligee, Greene County, Alabama. The projected jobs include 125 at the plant as operators, supervisors and engineers and 600 indirect jobs working in forestry (logging), log transport, wood chipping, fuel transport and others.
Spokespeople for Coskata stated that “The Crossroads of America Industrial Park was chosen based on its proximity to an abundant supply of sustainably produced wood biomass, and because of the resolute support for the project by state and local officials, including the Greene County Commission and Industrial Development Authority,Governor Bob Riley, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Richard Shelby, and former Congressman Artur Davis.
“The company will be working with Governor Robert Bentley to bring this project into reality in the state of Alabama. The facility will create cellulosic ethanol, a high octane renewable fuel, with a superior environmental footprint compared to gasoline.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said, “The Coskata project has the potential to create hundreds of good quality jobs and economic development in an area of the state where they are sorely needed. This facility will allow Alabama to be at the forefront of our country’s efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create an environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline.
“While the process for finalizing the overall financing of the facility is expected to take several months, today’s USDA announcement is a critical first step in that process, and we’re optimistic that the project will come to completion.”
Nick Underwood, Chair of the Greene County Commission, said, “We are very supportive of this project and commend the work of Danny Cooper, Chair, Phillis Belcher, Executive Director and all the members of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority for bringing this project to this stage of development and providing the promise of much needed jobs in our county.”
“We look forward to working with the USDA and investment partners throughout 2011 to get the financing closed, so that this facility can proceed to construction, and help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, and create significant economic growth for the people of Alabama,” said Roe.
Coskata has been demonstrating the commercial viability of its process for over a year at the company’s integrated biorefinery, located in Madison, Pennsylvania. The process leverages proprietary microorganisms and efficient bioreactor designs in a unique three-step conversion process that can produce fuel-grade ethanol from virtually any carbon-based feedstock, including wood and wood waste, agricultural waste, energy crops, and municipal solid waste.The process produces approximately 100 gallons of fuel from each dry ton of biomass.
Coskata is privately held, and to date has been funded entirely by its equity investors, including Khosla Ventures, Blackstone Cleantech Ventures and the Blackstone Group, Advanced Technology Ventures, GreatPoint Ventures, Total Energy Ventures International (part of Total, one of the world’s major Oil and Gas groups, and a top tier player in chemicals), Coghill Capital Management, General Motors, and Globespan Capital Partners.