International Biomass Conference & Expo opens with policy panel

Posted April 30, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. CST

Policy will take center stage next week at the 3rd annual International Biomass Conference & Expo, the largest, fastest growing biomass event in North America. Nearly 2,000 attendees from all over the world will gather at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the event, which will feature 27 panels and more than 120 presentations May 5 and 6.

Conference organizers BBI International and Biomass Magazine have assembled a panel of legislative insiders from six U.S. trade associations representing biofuels, biomass power and biomass thermal energy. Each group faces critical legislative priorities, from extending tax credits for biofuels and biomass power to achieving greater parity among federal incentives for various forms of bioenergy. This highly anticipated panel, "Biomass Priorities on the Hill," will take place at 9 a.m. on the morning of May 5 following a keynote speech from Jack Oswald, CEO of Syngest Inc., a California-based company deploying a technology to convert crop residues into anhydrous ammonia. The general session will also feature a panel titled, "A Utility Perspective on Biomass Derived Power," featuring representatives of some of the largest utilities in the region including Great River Energy, Xcel and Alliant.

James Bertrand, chair of the energy practice at the Minnesota-based law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard, will moderate the policy discussion. Panelists will include representatives of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, the Algal Biomass Organization, the National Biodiesel Board, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the Biomass Power Association.

Bertrand anticipates a fast-paced exchange focused on the groups' multifarious legislative objectives – some aligned, some not – at a time described by panelist Michael McAdams of the Advanced Biofuels Association as "the most complicated and volatile legislative landscape in the past 30 years."

In addition to discussing each group's immediate biomass policy objectives – long-term safeguards for existing bioenergy incentives and strategies to advance critical new proposals – Bertrand expects the panel to tackle broader issues such as the possible impact of a U.S. climate bill, preserving the carbon neutral status of biomass power, and the premise of technology neutral incentives. He also plans to ask the panelists how the groups might synchronize some of their legislative goals, an issue Bob Cleaves of the Biomass Power Association is eager to address.

"We need to talk about harmonizing incentives," Cleaves said. "The existing tax landscape is balkanized and byzantine. As users of the same feedstock, we need to work together and with the congress to provide greater parity among ourselves and across all renewable technologies."

Visit for complete details on the event, including the final agenda, expo hours, registration rates, and media access.

About BBI International:
BBI International produces globally recognized events and trade magazines. In addition to the International Biomass Conference & Expo and its allied regional events, BBI owns and operates the Industrial GHG Solutions Conference & Expo, the Advanced Biofuels Workshop, and the largest, longest-running ethanol conference in the world – the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo. The company publishes Biomass Magazine, Industrial GHG Solutions, Ethanol Producer Magazine, and Biodiesel Magazine, as well as a number of ancillary products including maps, directories, e-newsletters and other Web-based industry resources.