Washington law expands generation of biomass RECs

By Erin Voegele | May 17, 2017

On May 16, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that allows certain older biomass power facilities to generate and sell renewable energy credits.

The bill, SB 5128, was first introduced in January. It allows incremental electricity produced as a result of certain capital investment projects to qualify as an eligible resource under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Under the RPS, qualifying utilities must use eligible renewable resources, or acquire equivalent renewable energy credits (RECs), for 3 percent renewable energy by 2012, ramping up to 9 percent in 2016 and 15 percent in 2020.

According to information published by the state legislature, RPS regulations define eligible renewable resource as electricity generated from wind, solar, geothermal, landfill and sewage gas, wave and tidal power, and certain biodiesel fuels. Eligible renewable resources must be generated in a facility that started operating after March 31, 1999. Eligible renewable resources also include qualified biomass energy produced at a biomass energy facility that commenced operations before March 31, 1999, contributes to a qualifying utilities load, and is owned by either a qualifying utility or an industrial facility that is directly interconnected with electricity facilities owned by the qualifying facility.

The newly signed legislation states that a qualifying utility may use incremental electricity produced as a result of a capital investment completed after Jan. 1, 2010 as an eligible renewable resource. The increase in the amount of electricity must be relative to the baseline level of generation prior to the capital investment. Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, the facility must demonstrate its baseline level of generation over a three-year period prior to the capital investment. In addition, the facility must have commenced operation before March 31, 1999 and generate qualified biomass energy.

The legislation also states that the facility must demonstrate the increase in electricity as a results of the capital investment and that the Department of Commerce must adopt rules to develop a methodology for calculating baseline levels of generation of electricity.

Additional information is available on the Washington legislature website