Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of funds for Fiscal Year 2012 for two key programs to encourage the use of renewable biomass and production of advanced biofuels. About $25 million will be made available through each program.

"President Obama has laid out a new era for American energy—an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers," said Vilsack. "These programs support that vision by helping biorefineries use renewable biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels and supporting advanced biofuel producers as they expand production."

The Repowering Assistance Program provides approximately $25 million in funding to biorefineries that have been in existence on or before June 18, 2008. The purpose of the program is to provide a financial incentive to biorefineries to use renewable biomass in place of fossil fuels used to produce heat or power. By providing this assistance, USDA is helping these facilities install new systems that use renewable biomass.

The amount of the payment will be based on (1) the cost effectiveness of the renewable biomass system; and (2) the percentage reduction in fossil fuels used by that biorefinery. The maximum amount an individual biorefinery can receive under the Notice is 50 percent of total eligible project costs up to a maximum of $10 million.

Eligible costs must be related to construction or repowering improvements, such as engineering design, equipment installation and professional fees. The application deadline for this program to receive funds for Fiscal Year 2012 is June 1, 2012. For additional details, please see pages 5232 through 5234 of the February 2, 2012, Federal Register, or go to http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-02/pdf/2012-2244.pdf.

USDA also announced the availability of up to $25 million to make payments to advanced biofuels producers who expect to produce eligible advanced biofuels at any time during Fiscal Year 2012. To be eligible for these funds, an advanced biofuels producers must have enrolled in the program by October 31, 2011, even if the producer has an existing contract with the Agency.

Payments will be made to producers of advanced biofuels derived from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. These include cellulose, sugar and starch, crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, animal fat, and biogas.

Contract payments will be made quarterly. For additional details, please see pages 5229 through 5232 of the February 2, 2012, Federal Register, or go to http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-02/pdf/2012-2240.pdf.