USDA Powers Woodwork IndustryDIXON, NM - Custom wood and construction firm Los Ebanistas, Dixon, New Mexico, earned a  $5,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for solar panels to power its cabinetry operation.

It's one of scores of firms involved in biofuels and other renewable energy sources that will benefit as the U.S. Department of Agriculture ratchets up spending on projects large and small. Funding runs from thousands into tens of millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions - such as a $232.5 million USDA commitment to the ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery in Boardman, OR - which will convert wood into transportation fuel. USDA Powers Woodwork Industry

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week launched two programs, each funded at $25 million, to encourage use of renewable biomass and production of advanced biofuels - both programs using wood byproducts or conversion of wood to fuel. A Repowering Assistance Program provides $25 million to retool biorefineries built before June 18, 2008 so they can use renewable biomass instead of fossil fuels to power their fuel-making process. Older biofuel operations have been criticized for high energy consumption in production of biofuels.

Another $25 million will fund advanced biofuels producers who expect to produce eligible advanced biofuels including cellulose such as wood products, sugar and starch, crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, animal fat, and biogas.

Los Ebanistas, Inc., started in 1977 by Mark Johnson as a cabinetry shop, received its funding under a USDA Rural Energy for America Program, which aims to help small businesses and farmers with energy projects.

USDA Powers Woodwork IndustryLos Ebanistas operates a fujll-service cabinet and milkwork shop, specializing in custom carpentry and interior finishes, as well as in adobe construction techniques. Capable of green LEED certified projects, Los Ebanitas launched a separate arm - Sol Luna Solar.

At a dedication event Feb. 3, Terry Brunner, director of the USDA Rural Development Department commended Los Ebanistas Construction Inc. to reduce its carbon emissions through both a solar thermal and solar photovoltaic system at the shop. Johnson was presented with a plaque in recognition of the solar grant that was awarded to Los Ebanistas.

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