Biomass Power Association holds annual Washington fly-in

By Biomass Power Association | May 16, 2013

The Biomass Power Association held its annual “fly-in” this week in Washington, DC. This event enables BPA members from across the country to meet with elected and appointed federal officials to discuss the issues most important to the biomass industry.

“We had a significant turnout this year, as BPA members are beginning to witness the actions of the 113th Congress, and see how their businesses might be affected by certain legislative and regulatory proposals,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the association. “There were many productive conversations with staffers and members themselves about the tax and energy policies we need to continue supplying the nation with jobs and clean, renewable energy.”

Fly-in attendees visited the offices of more than 30 officials representing states and districts across the country, many of whom sit on highly influential committees with direct jurisdiction over the agencies and policies that most impact the biomass industry.

“Our members had the opportunity for detailed discussions with officials representing districts all over the country,” said Gary Melow, director of Michigan Biomass and state projects coordinator for Biomass Power Association. “We were welcomed and received well across the board.”

The policies highlighted by participants as essential to the future of the industry included both tax and energy proposals.

On the tax side, BPA members highlighted the need for permanent extension of production tax credits, and the need for tax parity among all renewables. Biomass, the only renewable energy source that purchases its own fuel, currently receives about half the tax credits extended to other forms of renewable energy.

On the energy side, BPA members called for recognition of biomass materials, including urban wood, as “fuel” and not “waste” – a distinction that has no environmental impact, yet dramatically changes the availability of fuel to facilities in many areas.

BPA members, alongside representatives of other similar industries, encouraged close monitoring of the EPA’s upcoming Tailoring Rule decision, which will determine the federal agency’s method of accounting for the biomass carbon cycle.

Fly-in participants also supported the creation of a national energy policy, which would preserve the viability of existing facilities and allow entrepreneurs to open new biomass facilities where it makes sense, as well as contribute to local economies and provide local jobs.