BCAP funding awarded to New York, North Carolina, Arkansas

By Luke Geiver | June 13, 2012

The USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is back in action. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that two new project areas will be developed and another existing BCAP project area will be expanded through the help of a $9.6 million funding round.

In New York, ReEnergy Holding LLC will enroll 3,500 acres in a fast growing shrub willow that will be used to help the biomass power developer generate over 100 MW. The biomass company already has three facilities that have committed to purchasing the shrub feedstock. According to the USDA, the establishment of the energy willows will create roughly 144 jobs over the course of 11 years. Part of the project will include support from the “Come Farm With Us,” campaign, a program that targets new and beginning farmers form the St. Regis Mohawk reservation located only 15 miles from one of the committed facilities.

Chemtex International, a division of Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi, an advanced biofuels, biobased chemical and renewable energy developer based out of Italy, has been awarded roughly $4 million from the USDA to develop 4,000 acres of miscanthus and switchgrass in North Carolina. The energy crop project areas will be spread throughout 11 counties, and the energy crops will be used in part for Project Alpha, a 20 MMgy cellulosic ethanol biorefinery that will also produce onsite biogas for power generation, set for startup in 2014 in Sampson County, N.C.

The feedstock planting, mitigation and monitoring will be led by Repreve Renewables LLC, a Georgia-based energy crop developer. Farmers will receive both establishment assistance and five years of annual production support from the BCAP funding, according to the USDA.

A northeast Arkansas project area already established through BCAP support will expand giant miscanthus acres grown throughout three counties to almost 8,000 acres. The project area is sponsored and run by the partnership of MFA Oil and Aloterra Energy LLC called MFA Oil Biomass LLC. The energy crops will be used for fuel pellets for export and in-farm heating and biobased packaging, according to the USDA. 

Feedstock producers in the three recently funded states who voluntarily sign up for BCAP will be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of the establishment costs for perennial crops, and, for up to five years for annual maintenance payments associated with herbaceous crops. For woody crops, payments through program will last for 11 years.

“The award will jumpstart action by farmers,” according to Guido Ghisolfi, president of Chemtex, “to plant profitable non-food energy crops that will then be used in local production of profitable advanced biofuels.”

For Vilsack, the BCAP program is the foundation of a “stronger energy future in rural America.” Most energy crops take time to mature, he said, and BCAP helps to assistance growers during that time period. Most importantly he added, “These crops can grow where other crops cannot, providing farmers with new opportunities to diversify into more markets.”