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Biofuel infrastructure grant program accepting applications

by Cameron Gerber | September 8, 2022 at 4:02 a.m.

Renewable fuel businesses in Missouri have the opportunity to vie for infrastructure project funding through a state program this month.

The Biofuel Infrastructure Incentive Program (BIIP), which is administered by the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA), will dole out up to $40 million in funds for clean fuel businesses undertaking infrastructure projects. Funds are to be awarded to fuel retailers or distributors, fleet operations or terminal companies that currently or plan to store or dispense ethanol blends. Funds are available for the construction, installation, retrofitting or upgrading of infrastructure within the state that's solely used for the environmentally-friendly biofuel practices, including fuel dispensers, pumps, and underground and above-ground storage tanks.

Projects may include multiple locations across the state, according to MASBDA.

Biodiesel is renewable and biodegradable fuel derived from agricultural products, including soybean oil. Ethanol, meanwhile, is produced using feedstocks.

Businesses dealing with blends of 15 percent ethanol or higher or biodiesel blends at or beyond 6 percent are eligible to apply for the funds.

"MASBDA is proud to play a part in expanding the opportunity for increased biofuel in Missouri," MASBDA Executive Director Jill Wood said. "An investment in biofuel is an investment in Missouri agriculture with the increased demand for soybeans and corn, two of Missouri's top commodities."

Funds will be awarded for these projects based on the size of the applicant. Businesses with more than five locations are expected to receive around 75 percent of the awarded funds, with grants capped at 50 percent of eligible costs or $500,000, whichever is less.

Companies with five or fewer locations will receive the rest of the allotment, with applicants receiving up to 75 percent of eligible costs or $250,000.

Applications for the program are due by Sept. 30. Recipients will be notified of their awards by Oct. 31. Companies with both biodiesel and ethanol infrastructure projects may apply for both categories.

Applications will be scored based the projected increase in throughput from the proposed project and the size of the requested grant. Higher projected outputs and lower request amounts will be favored, with funds awarded to the highest scorers first.

Missouri has the capacity to produce roughly 287 gallons of ethanol and around 216 gallons of biodiesel annually, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, making the renewable fuel sector one of its major industries.

The emerging renewable fuel industry traces its roots back to the Mid-Missouri area: Much of the early research into biodiesel and soybean-based fuel was led by the Jefferson City-based Clean Fuels Alliance America, formerly known as the National Soydiesel Development Board, in conjunction with the University of Missouri and groups in other Midwestern states.

"The Missouri Biofuels Infrastructure Incentive Program has proven to be a huge success in expanding biodiesel access across the state. This program, which has awarded numerous grants to terminal companies, fleet operations, fuel retailers, and fuel distributors, has provided Missouri citizens with a premium fuel that adds value from Missouri soybean farmers. This domestically-made fuel has proven to lower the costs of regular petroleum diesel and reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions," said James Earl, Clean Fuels Alliance America's director of state regulatory affairs.

Biodiesel adds around $266 million in value to soybean bushels and supports more than 3,000 jobs, according to Earl. The Show-Me State also ranks No. 3 in the U.S. for biodiesel production.

"In total, the Missouri biodiesel industry adds a total economic impact of over $1.25 billion to the state," Earl said. "We would like to thank our partners at Missouri Soybean Association for their support of this program and ensuring its expansion was approved by Missouri lawmakers this past legislative session."

Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Chairman Aaron Porter called the program "an important step in our efforts to build new demand and access for biodiesel and growth for our economy here in the state."

Biodiesel and ethanol blend providers would also benefit from the extension of agricultural tax credits set to be debated by lawmakers in an upcoming extraordinary session of the Missouri Legislature. The programs, also administered by MASBDA, sunset in 2020; Gov. Mike Parson's proposal would see them extended for eight years.

Other tax credits included in the special session call would benefit other ag businesses, including meat and wood energy producers, while lawmakers will also consider a substantial tax cut and tax code reform when they return to Jefferson City.

Learn more about the program or submit an application at financial/biofuelgrant.php.

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