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Announces grants designed to stimulate investment in renewable energy projects


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~ Announces grants designed to stimulate investment in renewable energy projects ~

DANIA BEACH – Governor Charlie Crist today recognized Florida’s growing renewable energy technology industry as a part of his ongoing focus on economic development. During a roundtable discussion at the Center for Ocean Energy Technology at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) with leaders of Florida’s renewable energy industry, Governor Crist congratulated the nine recipients of $15 million in grant funding through the Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grant Program. Earlier today, Governor Crist visited Marathon Petroleum’s ethanol blending facility in Tampa.

“Florida is leading the way as a major marketplace for advanced energy technologies,” said Governor Crist. “As our state and nation recover from challenging economic times, we must continue to encourage companies to invest in clean technologies here in Florida, which will bring ‘green’ jobs to our people, as well as protect our environment and stimulate our economy.”

The Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grant Program, awarded by the Florida Energy & Climate Commission, advances the growing establishment of renewable energy technologies in the state. The 2008-09 grant recipients are as follows:

Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technology Grants

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC – $2.5 million, “Willard & Kelsey Solar Group International Solar Park Manufacturing and Administrative Headquarters” ($2.5 million)

University of South Florida – $1,422,364, “Smart Grid with Renewable Strategic Load Pocket” ($1,422,364)

ARI Green Energy Inc. – $2.5 million, “Next Generation Small Wind Generator Systems Manufacturing Site” ($2.5 million)

Mustang Vacuum Systems LLC – $577,636 (partial funding), “Solar Energy Project” ($577,636; partial funding)

Bioenergy Grants

· Southeast Renewable Fuels, “Construction of Sweet Sorghum to Ethanol Advanced Biorefinery” ($2.5 million)

· Verenium Biofuels Corp., “Highlands Ethanol Project” ($2.5 million)

· Highlands EnviroFuels LLC, “No-Tillage Sweet Sorghum Cropping System to Reduce Green House Gases for Biofuel Production” ($305,000)

· Florida Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association, “Ocala Equine Energy” ($2.5 million)

· Florida Crystals Corporation and Coskata Inc., “Engineering for Commercial Scale Biomass to Liquid Fuels Plant and Eucalyptus Energy Plantation” ($195,000; partial funding)

During today’s roundtable discussion on the current state of Florida’s renewable energy industry, Governor Crist highlighted Florida’s projected plans for future expansion and growth. Several of Florida’s top education, business and energy leaders participated, including Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole; Tim Anderson, director of the University of Florida Energy Systems Consortium; Susan Hill Skemp, executive director of Sea Tech Ocean Engineers at FAU; Stephen Clarke, director of industrial research and development for Florida Crystals; Jim Murley, assistant dean of FAU’s College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs and chair of the Florida Energy & Climate Commission; Florida Public Service Commissioner Katrina McMurrian; Jeremy Susac, director of the Governor’s Energy Office; Frank Brogan, incoming state universities chancellor; Buck Martinez, senior director of development for Florida Power and Light; Dr. David L. Block, P.E., director emeritus and University of Central Florida engineering professor and director of the Florida Solar Energy Center Alternative Energy Banner Center workforce training and education program; Dr. John Pritchett, recently appointed FAU Interim President; and Nancy Blosser, chair of FAU’s Board of Trustees.

Governor Crist highlighted the ocean energy research and technology development at Florida Atlantic University’s Center of Excellence. Created by the 2006 Legislature, the 11 university-based centers focus on emerging technologies with potential for economic and societal impact, including alternative energy and life sciences, among others. In addition to the center at FAU, the Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy Technology Incubator at the University of Florida also focuses on alternative energy.

At the Marathon Petroleum ethanol blending facility in Tampa, Governor Crist applauded the company’s success as one of the nation’s largest blenders of fuel ethanol. The company has used more than $9.7 million in tax incentives from the state, with $5.2 million going to install an automatic blending station at the Tampa facility. In 2008, Marathon Petroleum blended approximately 550 million gallons of E10 at its three Florida terminals. The company has already blended nearly that same amount in 2009, the majority of which has been blended at the Tampa terminal. Marathon Petroleum distributes fuel from its three facilities to gas stations throughout the state, helping achieve Florida’s goal of 10 percent ethanol blended with gasoline by 2010.

Tomorrow, Governor Crist will participate in the annual 2009 Farm to Fuel Summit, continuing his focus on the renewable energy industry in Florida. The 2009 Farm to Fuel Summit brings together leaders from the agriculture industry, academia, financial institutions and government to discuss and exchange ideas on how Florida can use renewable resources to meet its energy needs. 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 Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technology Grants

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.

Originally established in 2006, the grant program is designed to stimulate capital investment in Florida and promote and enhance the statewide utilization of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. The nine grants 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