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New website to serve New Hampshire's biomass industry

By Anna Austin | April 13, 2011

A newly launched website aims to serve as an informative resource for New Hampshire’s biomass power industry and bring attention to relevant issues and challenges that are affecting plants in the state.

NewBiomassNH.org was launched by Scott Tranchemontagne, who has worked with a number of renewable energy companies over the past several years. Tranchemontagne said he believed New Hampshire needed its own website because of the industry’s significance to the state’s economy. It ranks among the top four states in U.S. for the most operating and proposed biomass energy plants, besides having very abundant wood resources, Tranchemontagne pointed out.

“We’re a small state, but we’re mostly covered by forest,” he said. “We have a robust forest industry, and also a number of biomass plant issues right now that are getting a lot of attention.”

One particular issue that’s affecting several first-generation power plants in the New Hampshire is the expiration of long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) with state power providers. While the state does have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), it categorizes renewable energy sources into different classes, putting new renewable energy sources at an advantage.

Power utilities are required to purchase an increasing amount of renewable energy each year until 2025, but while the amount of Class I generation needed—new renewable energy beginning operations after Jan. 1, 2006—increases from at least 2 to 16 percent from now until 2025, the amount of Class III generation—biomass energy plants placed into service before 2006—remains at 6.5 percent from now until 2025.

Four older biomass plants in the state are currently facing shutdowns. Employees of those plants, the timber industry and other stakeholders are urging New Hampshire policymakers to help facilitate the negotiation of short-term contracts between the power plants and the state’s utilities/competitive energy suppliers, as well as modify the New Hampshire’s RPS  to be more supportive of in-state biomass production.
 
“[Power providers] are saying the power is too expensive and they shouldn’t be forced into PPAs again,” Tranchemontagne says. “But I think it’s more about the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)—they don’t need Class III RECs, they need Class I.”
 
He pointed out that the RPS offers Class III biomass plants an opportunity to move up to Class I, but it would require significant capital improvements to increase their generating capacity and reduce emissions.
 
The website will provide information and analysis on these kinds of issues, Tranchemontagne said. 
 
To learn more, visit www.NewBiomassNH.org.

 

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