[Reuters] Bill Gates’ investment firm, Cascade Investment, agreed last month to buy 5.25 million preferred shares in Pacific Ethanol, a producer of the corn-based fuel hailed by environmentalists as an answer to the earth’s dwindling supply of petroleum. The financing, in which the preferred shares will be converted into common stock, is expected to close in January and will net the Fresno, California-based company $84 million. In an interview at Reuters’ Times Square offices, Koehler said Gates’ investment was a sign that ethanol can be a viable alternative to oil at a time of see-sawing gasoline prices and concerns about global warming and climate change. Gates’ money will help Pacific Ethanol proceed with its plan to initially build five plants on the West Coast to process Midwestern corn into ethanol, he said. For the full story, use the following link.