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Governor Crist Encourages Investment and Increased Use of Florida’s Biofuels


ORLANDO – Governor Charlie Crist today encouraged investment in Florida’s renewable energy industry while addressing attendees in Orlando at the 2009 Farm to Fuel Summit, hosted by Commissioner Charles Bronson and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Governor Crist praised investors and producers of ethanol and biofuels for their efforts to develop renewable energy.

“Florida’s success as a national leader in renewable energy technology, including ethanol and other biofuel production, benefits the state’s economy and environment while reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Governor Crist. “I am committed to continuing the diversification of Florida’s energy portfolio and the development of our state as a green technology business hub.”

Governor Crist highlighted Florida’s rise as a national leader in renewable energy investment and renewable energy research and development. The Governor also emphasized Florida’s continued commitment to growing a green technology business hub in Florida. Since 2006, the State of Florida has awarded more than $43 million through the Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grant Program, with more than $23 million going to the bioenergy sector.

In addition to funding research related to the production of ethanol using crops such as sorghum and citrus peel waste that do not compete with food production, Florida is also investing in projects that focus on farming techniques that minimize the need for water and fertilizer. Florida’s recent investments include research on biodiesel production from advanced energy crops such as jatropha and algae that may have considerably greater yields per acre than traditional oil feed stocks. Governor Crist highlighted that careful study of these second generation biofuels is part of an integrated solution for meeting Florida's future energy needs that also includes improving fuel economy, designing communities around smart growth principles and promoting mass transportation and conservation.

Florida’s leadership in the area of bioenergy will benefit from federal stimulus money. Florida was among the first ten states approved to begin implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding under the State Energy Program Grant. Florida has already received more than $63 million to the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, housed within the Executive Office of the Governor, to initiate programs designed to spur economic development in renewable energy and energy efficiency across the State of Florida. Earlier this year, Governor Crist announced the allocation of more than $168 million in federal economic stimulus funds to state and local governments through the State Energy Program and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

Yesterday, Governor Crist hosted a roundtable discussion at the Center for Ocean Energy Technology at Florida Atlantic University with leaders of Florida’s renewable energy industry. He also announced the nine recipients of $15 million in grant funding through the Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grant Program. Prior to the roundtable, Governor Crist visited Marathon Petroleum’s ethanol blending facility in Tampa and applauded the company’s success as one of the nation’s largest blenders of fuel ethanol. Marathon Petroleum distributes fuel from its three Florida facilities to gas stations throughout the state, helping achieve the state’s goal of 10 percent ethanol blended gasoline by 2010.

Additional federal funding opportunities are available to Floridians for projects promoting the continued production and use of biofuels. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for funding of up to $50 million. For more information on these and other funding sources, please visit the Florida Office of Economic Recovery Web site at www.FlaRecovery.com.

The Farm to Fuel Summit promotes the production, distribution, and use of renewable fuels, particularly ethanol. The Farm to Fuel initiative was created by the 2006 Legislature to enhance the market for and promote the production and distribution of renewable energy from Florida-grown crops, agricultural wastes and residues, and other biomass and to enhance to value of agriculture products or expand Florida’s agribusiness.

About the Florida Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grants Program

The Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grants Program was created by the 2006 Florida Energy Act to provide renewable energy matching grants for demonstration, commercialization, research and development projects relating to renewable energy technologies. The grant program is designed to stimulate capital investment throughout Florida and promote and enhance the use of renewable energy technologies.

Grant proposals are evaluated based on various criteria, including cost share percentage, economic development potential, energy efficiency and how the project fosters public awareness of renewable energy technologies. Grants are awarded at a maximum of $2.5 million per project for eligible applicants, such as Florida municipalities and county governments, established for-profit companies licensed to do business in Florida, universities and colleges in the state, utilities located and operating within Florida, not-for-profit organizations and state agencies. The targeted grants utilize technologies such as hydrogen, biomass, solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, ocean energy, waste heat and hydroelectric power, as well as energy efficiency and conservation. The nine grants awarded yesterday will bring private cost-share funds of more than $336 million into the state. In addition, four of the projects are located in a designated Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC) – Hamilton, Highlands and Hendry Counties.

About Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Initiatives

During the past three years, Florida has provided more than $67.5 million in grant funding to encourage investment in the state, as well as promote and enhance the use of alternative and renewable energy technologies. In addition to the $15 million awarded in 2008-09, the state awarded $37.5 million in grant funding in 2007-08, including $25 million through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Farm to Fuel program. In 2006-07, $15 million in funding was awarded to eight organizations.

Designed to help stimulate development of energy technologies, the grants further Governor Crist’s commitment to diversify the state’s energy sources, spur economic growth and promote energy conservation and efficiency. Florida is currently taking on a leadership role, injecting capital into Florida’s clean energy economy and creating “green collar jobs” with the help of funding provided by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Last year, the Governor signed House Bill 7135, the 2008 Energy and Economic Development Legislation, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and encouraging investment in alternative and renewable energy technologies. This comprehensive legislation created the Florida Energy & Climate Commission, a central office for state energy and climate change programs and policies. For more information on Florida’s energy and climate change initiatives, please visit MyFloridaClimate.com.

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