Elite Octane, a dry-mill ethanol plant in Atlantic, will receive a $250,000 energy efficiency grant funded by the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to install a Dryer Exhaust Energy Recovery (DEER) system that will capture and reuse energy from the plant’s dryer. The system is projected to save Elite Octane $1.2 million per year in energy costs, according to a release.

Congresswoman Cindy Axne and the U.S. Department of Agrictulture’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small made the announcement at the Iowa plant on Tuesday.

Torres Small said USDA Rural Development is investing a total of $1.8 million in 92 Iowa companies through REAP, including Elite Octane. The program provides loans and grants to reduce energy costs for agricultural producers and rural small businesses.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy projects receiving funding include installations of solar arrays, upgrades to energy efficient lighting and coolers, and the replacement of grain dryers and HVAC systems.

Another $2 billion in funding for REAP could become available if a bill moving through Congress is approved. Axne's press secretary Paige Godden said the lawmaker expects the $2 billion amount to remain in the bill, and anticipates Congress voting on the bill before Thanksgiving.

Other biofuel investments included in the bill, better known as the Build Back Better Act are:

  • $1 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants over the next 10 years to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps, and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.
  • A four year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which was set to expire at the end of 2022.
  • A new tax credit to support the creation and usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, opening a new market for Iowa biofuels and biodiesel.

Axne said the REAP funding and Build Back Better investments will “address the climate crisis by investing in rural America.”

The $1 billion funding in biofuel infrastructure will expand the availability of higher blends of ethanol across the country and increase demand for low-carbon biofuels. Axne said the expansion would bring in an additional $500 million to Iowa farmers through higher corn and soybean demands.

After the grant announcement, Axne and Torres Small met with Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones, Acting State Director of USDA Rural Development Iowa Darin Leach and representatives from multiple agricultural organizations to discuss other components of the Build Back Better Act, including $100 million earmarked for broadband expansion and $3.4 billion to improve the condition of Iowa highways.