Boosting Biomass Thermal in New York

By Anna Simet | January 24, 2014

The thermal industry experienced triumph a couple of weeks ago when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State address, which introduced program Renewable Heat NY.

I wrote a brief story about what’s being proposed for the program so far, and to summarize, here are its main goals:

*To raise consumer awareness and develop the larger-scale anchor customers that energy firms need to begin the transition of their heating oil delivery fleet to bulk biomass.

*To facilitate workforce training and manufacturer support for field testing, equipment certification and early stage product development.

*To issue a state policy roadmap for accelerating the use of biomass for heating using the most efficient, low-emission technologies, identify pilot projects that are ideally suited for biomass conversion. 

*To challenge communities to develop clustered approaches for sustainable biomass heating markets, through a competitive grant program. 

*To develop long-term, reasonably priced private sector financing to cover the up-front cost of qualified biomass heating systems for buildings outside of the municipal sector, and provide support so that sustainable forestry practices are available for small and large landowners and are utilized to maintain and enhance the long-term health and productivity of New York’s forests.

While incentives for renewable electricity exist in 29 states via Renewable Portfolio Standards and incentive programs, it is atypical for them to include renewable heating. In fact, New Hampshire became the first state to take that step in late 2012, so this is a big deal for the region’s biomass heating industry.

I imagine that, in particular, the region’s pellet sector—from fuel suppliers to pellet producers to boiler manufacturers—is poised to see a boost from this program.

It’s important to note that this proposal didn’t come out of the blue. Biomass thermal industry advocates and stakeholders have no doubt played a huge role in getting this program off the ground, and are continually campaigning to earn well-deserved equality with other renewables.  

I look forward to see the program succeed, and hopefully, other states will eventually follow suit.