Biomass Thermal Legislative Advances
The Biomass Thermal Utilization Act (BTU Act), a federal investment tax credit on high-efficiency biomass heating systems, will be one of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council's top priorities again this year. In 2016, the BTU Act came closer than ever to becoming law. With this momentum, last Congress’s champions of BTU Act, Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, have agreed to spearhead the proposal again. Other efforts to achieve tax parity for biomass at the national level might be bolstered by the new Congress’s priority to reform the U.S. tax code. These efforts would make biomass thermal competitive with other renewable energy technologies, and expand markets for biomass across the country.
BTEC members have also made progress with state-level biomass efforts. In Maine, for example, a commission to study the state’s biomass industry recommended including thermal energy in the state’s renewable energy requirements. If passed into law, this proposal would encourage facilities to use biomass to increase the efficiency of their thermal energy systems.
BTEC is beginning the year with a strong focus on developing codes and standards for biomass thermal energy in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. One such proposal from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers, would expand the definition of on-site renewable energy for high-performance buildings to include biomass.
The other technical priorities for BTEC in 2017 include putting the finishing touches on the Wood Energy Financial Calculator, a tool that project managers can use to assess the cost savings of converting to biomass heat; completing laboratory testing of the first U.S. efficiency test standard for commercial-sized wood boilers; and working with industry stakeholders to create a U.S. wood chip standard. Besides BTEC, other partners working directly on the wood chip standard initiative include Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
The policy and technical priorities presented above will be discussed further at BTEC’s annual Northeast Biomass Heating Conference & Expo. The event will be in Burlington, Vermont, from April 25-27, and include tracks on policy, technical and project development, and business development. The goal of NEBHX 2017 is to introduce biomass thermal energy to a wider array of stakeholders, including specifiers, engineers, architects, and facility managers, as well as those already in the industry.
Author: Aaron Aber
Project Assistant, Biomass Thermal Energy Council