Cellulosic ethanol producer announced today that it landed an $80 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund construction of a new wood-chip processing plant in Georgia, slated to open in 2010. The deal, which falls under the biofuel provisions of the much-discussed 2008 Farm Bill, is essentially a promise that the department will cover the loan if Range can’t; it also lowers the cost of the project and interest rates.

This isn’t the first time Broomfield, Colo.-based Range has tapped federal sources for financing, having already received a $76 million grant from the Department of Energy to break ground in November 2007. The plant, expected to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol each year, is behind schedule so far, even though cash hasn’t been in short supply — Range raised $100 million in early 2008 from Passport Capital, BlueMountain, Khosla Ventures, Leaf Clean Energy Company and Pacific Capital Group. Still, it remains far ahead of competitors Coskata and Verenium, both of which have facilities of their own in the hopper.

The relevant stipulations in the Farm Bill state that companies developing non-corn-based biofuels can apply for up to $250 million for first-wave plants and projects.