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USDA $232 Million Loan Allows Expansion Of Oregon Biorefinery Along Columbia River
Posted on Friday, January 27, 2012 (PST)

The ZeaChem biorefinery under development along the Columbia River in Boardman, Oregon got a boost Thursday from a $232.5 million USDA conditional loan guarantee announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem, based in Lakewood, Colo., said in a Thursday statement the USDA conditional loan guarantee enables the financing and construction of the company’s first commercial-scale cellulosic biorefinery.


The USDA reported the total cost of the biorefinery is estimated to be $390.5 million. The loan guarantee represents 60 percent of the total cost estimate, and is the second loan guarantee made this month under the Biorefinery Assistance Program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.


When completed in 2014, the biorefinery is expected to produce 250 million gallons per year of biofuels made from woody biomass and agricultural residues such as straw and corn stalks. Imbler said the company uses leading technology that will produce more biofuels at the lowest cost and lowest carbon footprint in the industry.


“The USDA loan guarantee is a significant validation for ZeaChem’s highly efficient, economical and flexible biorefinery technology,” Imbler said in a press statement.


Vilsack’s announcement said the biorefinery is to be constructed on an industrial site in Boardman, along the Columbia River. About 70 percent of the biorefinery’s biofuel output will be made with woody biomass from existing popular plantings in the Boardman area, and 30 percent from wheat straw and corn stalks.


“This USDA loan guarantee is fantastic news for Boardman and Oregon,” Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a statement following the USDA announcement. “This project will support the long-term development of renewable energy and boost economic rural development.


“This facility has the potential to create nearly 250 construction jobs and 65 full time operations jobs, providing positive economic development in the rural Boardman community and boosting Oregon’s economy,” Kitzhaber said in a press statement.


Currently, ZeaChem operates a demonstration biorefinery in the Port of Morrow industrial park at Boardman that produces 250,000 gallons of biofuel annually. Carrie Atiyeh, ZeaChem’s director of public affairs, presented an update on the new biorefinery plans Wednesday during the Oregon Energy Forum breakfast in Portland.


Vilsack said the USDA’s loan guarantee to ZeaChem will help advance President Obama’s vision for a new era of “homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American Workers.”


More information about ZeaChem and its biorefinery project is available online at

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