Georgia Biodiesel Project Moves Closer to USDA Loan Guarantee
by Ron Kotrba (Biodiesel Magazine) Smisson-Mathis Energy LLC, a joint venture between The Smisson Group of Macon, Georgia, and Tactical Fabrication LLC, has been selected by USDA to initiate Phase 2 of the Section 9003 program for the company’s $6.75 million enzymatic biodiesel project in Laurens County, Georgia. SME received its so-called “Green Light Letter” from USDA’s biorefinery assistance loan guarantee program after applying April 3.
Phase 1 of the process involved providing USDA a rigorous feasibility study, performed by Global Renewable Strategies and Consulting LLC, to indicate a solid business plan and technology selection. Phase 2 includes a lender’s analysis by the prospective bank and a USDA environmental assessment, according to Jill Hamilton, founder of Sustainable Energy Strategies Inc., a company hired to help with the award process.
Unlike grants or other government incentives that may provide funding upfront, the Section 9003 biorefinery assistance loan guarantee program provides banks with assurance that if a biodiesel project falters on its loan repayment obligations for whatever unforeseen reason, the government will repay the lender up to 80 percent of the loan.
A 120-day technology demonstration is also part of the Phase 2 process, according to SME CEO Franklin Mathis.
“This demonstration process began several months ago and will end July 1,” Mathis said. “We are achieving current ASTM D6751 requirements and they are sustainable. …”