NC Biofuel industry concerned over upcoming closure of state Bio - WSPA.com

NC biofuel industry left out of new state budget

Posted: Updated:
The General Assembly did not fund the North Carolina Biofuels Center in its current budget, forcing the non-profit to close its doors Oct. 31. The General Assembly did not fund the North Carolina Biofuels Center in its current budget, forcing the non-profit to close its doors Oct. 31.
PITTSBORO, N.C. -

The head of a local bio-diesel refinery calls the upcoming closure of a state biofuel center a "setback" for the state.

The General Assembly did not fund the Biofuels Center of North Carolina in its current budget, forcing the non-profit to close its doors Oct. 31.

Created in 2007, its mission was to help the state create locally grown biofuels, and help advance the state of the art for the industry.

"We were ahead of the country with biofuels technology and the idea we no longer want to lead is, in my view, a tragedy," said Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels.

The center had a budget of approximately $5 million.

"It's not like the $5 million went to staff," said Estill. "It was distributed all over the state to all sorts of projects from algae research to cellulosic ethanol to improvements in biodiesel technology."

A number of years ago, Estill's company received a $250,000 loan from the state biofuel center which it used to help build the business. As Piedmont Biofuels began to make money, it paid the loan back.

It also received several grants from the state Biofuels Center, which Estill said had been a good return on the investment of taxpayer's money.

"A lot of the R and D we did using Biofuel Center money has spread to other plants and processes. It wasn't just invested in us," Estill said.

He said the center's "fingerprints are on all kinds of biofuel projects in the state."

Estill believes the biofuels industry in N.C. is still growing and funding from places like the Biofuels Center is critical to that continued growth.

"You are birthing a nascent industry. Whenever you require innovation, it's expensive and risky," Estill said.

With the biofuels center slated to shut down in October, any unspent money will return to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

It's unclear if the Dept. of Commerce or some other state agency will continue to provide grants to the state's biofuels industry.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

  • Wake CountyMore>>

  • New taxi options in Raleigh offer more than standard fare

    New taxi options in Raleigh offer more than standard fare

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:11 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:11:57 GMT
    A pair of new ride sharing smartphone apps launched in Raleigh on Thursday, to the dismay of some traditional taxi services.Uber and Lyft are both well-established in some larger cities. The services connect independent drivers in their personal vehicles with people who need a ride. The car is ordered and paid for using the app. Once inside the vehicle, no money exchanges hands.WNCN decided to try out the service for ourselves. We downloaded both apps. Uber did not have any cars available nea...
    A pair of new ride sharing smartphone apps launched in Raleigh on Thursday, to the dismay of some traditional taxi services.Uber and Lyft are both well-established in some larger cities. The services connect independent drivers in their personal vehicles with people who need a ride. The car is ordered and paid for using the app. Once inside the vehicle, no money exchanges hands.WNCN decided to try out the service for ourselves. We downloaded both apps. Uber did not have any cars available nea...
  • Sexercise provides more than physical fitness

    Sexercise provides more than physical fitness

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:01:21 GMT
    Physical and mental health are both benefits of traditional exercise, but there can be hidden benefits as well in other non-traditional ways to get fit.
    Physical and mental health are both benefits of traditional exercise, but there can be hidden benefits as well in other non-traditional ways to get fit.
  • Man found shot in Raleigh apartment

    Man found shot in Raleigh apartment

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:33:21 GMT
    Raleigh police said a 35-year-old man died Thursday afternoon after being found in an apartment with gunshot wounds.
    Raleigh police said a 35-year-old man died Thursday afternoon after being found in an apartment with gunshot wounds.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.