In his 2007-2008 budget, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is proposing $61 million to support the development of alternative fuels in the state, with $50 million of that going toward cellulosic ethanol.
Combined with $11.6 million in existing funding for an ongoing related project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Governor’s proposal represents a $72.6 million commitment to alternative fuels.
Bredesen’s proposed budget includes $40 million to build a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant that will operate at a capacity of five million gallons per year.
We know we can make ethanol from grassy and woody materials. The challenge is producing it in large volumes and at a price that is competitive with gasoline, and in proving we can be the ones to take the discovery from the laboratory to the marketplace.
We are a biomass state. We have the right conditions, climate and resources to grow virtually unlimited quantities of biomass. We also have the scientific and research communities in our universities and laboratories required to help us realize this potential in a way that can be truly transformational for our state and our economy.—Governor Bredesen
The Tennessee General Assembly earlier provided the $11.6 million for construction of the Joint Institute for Biological Sciences at ORNL. The facility is scheduled for completion in August. UT and ORNL are currently competing for a $125 million Bioenergy Research Center from the US Department of Energy. If successful, the Bioenergy Center would be housed in the Joint Institute for Biological Sciences.
Other components of the plan in the 2007-2008 proposed budget include:
$10 million for UT and ORNL to fund additional research to increase switchgrass production and achieve efficiencies in the production of cellulosic ethanol.
$3 million in research funding to find other, non-biomass alternative fuel sources.
$8 million in agricultural incentives to help Tennessee farmers tap into the new farm-based fuels market and produce switchgrass in the quantities required to supply the pilot ethanol plant.
Bredesen also announced that the specifics of the application process for three alternative fuels grant and loan programs. The three programs, representing a $3.5 million investment, were recommended by the state Alternative Fuels Working Group. They include:
Agricultural Feedstock Processing Loans to help attract investment in soybean crushing facilities to create local markets for Tennessee-grown soybeans and supply the oil needed to create biodiesel.
Innovation Grants to help governments and state-funded universities increase the use of alternative fuels in their fleets, particularly in areas not currently attaining federal air quality standards.
Green Island Corridor Grants to build a network of publicly-accessible B20 and E85 refueling stations or “green islands” along Tennessee’s major highways.