Colorado bioenergy producer asks EPA to process eRIN applications

By Erin Voegele | October 16, 2018

The owner of a biomass power plant in Colorado is the latest representative of the bioenergy industry to urge the U.S. EPA to take action to allow biomass power facilities to participate in the Renewable Fuel Standard program.

On Oct. 11, Dean Rostrom, owner of Eagle Valley Clean Energy LLC, a 13 MW biomass cogeneration facility located in Eagle County, Colorado, sent a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, urging him to promptly process applications that would allow facilities like his to participate in RFS by providing renewable power to fuel electric vehicles.

In his letter, Rostrom notes that Eagle Valley’s fuel is primarily sourced from waste material at regional saw mills and a 10-year stewardship contract issued by the U.S. Forest Service. “The Forest Service relies on this contract and our power plant as an essential tool to safely and efficiently dispose of hazardous fuel, including beetle-kill forest material,” he wrote. “Our facility is the only one in Colorado that can consistently accept substantial amounts of hazardous fuel, and the arrangement among Eagle Valley Clean Energy, our logger, and the U.S. Forest Service is a model example of public-private cooperation to mitigate wildfire risk in our national forests.”

Although Congress agreed 11 years ago that certain forms of renewable electricity should be eligible to comply with the RFS, and the EPA approved the inclusion of bioenergy plants under the program four years ago, Rostrom stresses that the agency has so far failed to act on this approval by processing formal applications from bioenergy producers seeking to participate in the program. “We understand that EPA now faces a four-year backlog of applications from power producers seeking registration, with many more requests expected to follow,” he wrote.

Rostrom said Eagle Valley Clean Energy intends to seek certification under the RFS program. “It is essential to our financial wellbeing that this program be extended to our plant, and it is only fair that biomass plants be entitled to benefit from the RFS program on an equal footing with other generators of renewable energy, such as wind and solar,” Rostrom wrote. “We respectfully urge you to act on all outstanding registration requests as expeditiously as possible, and to issue a final conclusion on the regulatory structure for the electric [renewable identification number (RIN)] pathway.”

The Biomass Power Association has spoken out in support of Rostrom’s request. “Biomass power facilities across the country are feeling economic pressure due to low power prices and high fuel costs,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of BPA. “Congress gave them the right to generate RINs through the RFS program 11 years ago, and the EPA approved this plan four years ago. Yet the EPA still hasn’t processed even one application for electric RIN generation. It’s time for the EPA to honor its commitment to enable this biomass power facility in Colorado, and others that contribute to rural communities across America, to participate in the RFS.”