Albany, New York [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] New York Governor George E. Pataki announced a major initiative to increase the production of biofuels in New York State, part of a comprehensive plan to develop and expand markets for ethanol and other biofuels, and help reduce the state’s dependence on foreign energy sources.Under an Executive Order issued by the Governor, all State agencies and public authorities will be required to increase their purchase and use of biofuels for heating their facilities and fueling their vehicles. The proposal also is expected to provide a boost to farmers in New York State who will gain an increased market for feedstocks used in biofuel production. “New York has an opportunity and an obligation to reduce our dependence on unstable foreign energy supplies, and we can begin to achieve this by boosting the production of homegrown biofuels,” Governor Pataki said. “High energy prices have significantly impacted families and businesses across the Empire State, and have clearly shown our vulnerability to foreign energy sources. By developing a strong biofuel industry in the State, we can break free from our dependency on foreign fuels, provide an economic boost to our farming community, and keep energy dollars here in New York. Under the Executive Order, state agencies and public authorities will be required to purchase and utilize biofuels for use in boilers, heating/cooling plants, and in their motor vehicle fleets. The Order mandates that by 2012, at least 5 percent of the heating fuel used in State buildings will be biodiesel, a biodegradable fuel made from agricultural products. In addition, by 2007, at least 2 percent of fuels used in the State fleet must be biodiesel, with this percentage rising to 10 percent in 2012. The Governor’s Clean Fueled Vehicle Council also will develop and implement plans to increase the number and accessibility of ethanol-refueling stations. “The Empire State is a national leader in promoting the use of renewable fuels, but we must continue to work to increase our use of alternative energy sources and strengthen our economy,” the Governor said. “With this initiative, I am calling on State agencies and authorities to set higher standards for using renewable energy, which will help to spur investments in biofuel production and make New York a pioneer in this emerging energy industry.” The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also will offer an incentive package to developers to promote the construction of bio-refineries in the State. Under the $500,000 program, applicants are eligible for grants of up to $100,000 for the planning, design and construction of biodiesel refining facilities, as well as other qualifying costs associated with construction and operations. The incentives are designed to attract potential investors and bolster in-State supplies of biofuels. Along with these efforts, the Governor also has directed the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to work with farmers to identify the best locations to grow soybeans and other biofuel feedstock crops. Since new strains of soybeans and other potential feedstocks such as switch grass and willow can be competitively grown in New York, an expanded biofuels market for these products will significantly benefit the State’s agricultural community. “There’s as much as two million acres of underutilized farmland in New York State that could be put into productive use growing energy crops, creating markets for our farmers, supporting jobs and rural economic development, and replacing imported petroleum with home-grown fuels and products,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L. Rudgers. Within the next year, up to three ethanol plants are expected to begin production in New York State, including Northeast Biofuels in Fulton, Oswego County. The Northeast Biofuels plant would be the largest ethanol plant in the Northeast, with a capacity to produce 100 million gallons annually. The Fulton biofuel site also will be home to a 5 million gallons/year biodiesel production facility built and operated by NextGen Fuel, Inc. of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County.