Mass. Deals a Blow to Biomass
Nine months past its deadline, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources finally released its proposed final regulations last week for woody biomass to qualify under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
Among several changes—which the agency called significant—is an increase in the minimum efficiency standard. For a biomass plant to receive half of a renewable energy credit (REC), it must reach 50 percent efficiency, instead of the 40 percent initially proposed last year. It won’t be awarded a full energy credit until it reaches 60 percent efficiency.
Well, we can rule out stand-alone biomass power in Massachusetts. After I posted an article about the regulations early Friday afternoon, I received an email from a public relations representative, offering me an interview with someone who had blogged about the regulations that day. So I looked at the blog and noticed that the writer started by saying Massachusetts had it right; that the state had properly crafted a policy to limit and control this resource that emits more carbon than fossil fuels. And I’m so tired of hearing that propaganda.
Needless to say, I declined the interview. This whole process in Massachusetts seems sketchy. First, we had a boisterous opposition group with no shortage of funds. Then we have a carbon emission study—the Manomet Study—flawed in so many ways that numerous subsequent reports have pointed out its inadequacies. Yet despite the reports negating the findings of the Manomet study, Massachusetts’ political leaders have used it as ammunition to continue down this path to severely limited biomass energy. After decades of offering subsidies for biomass projects, the state suddenly changes its mind, with only a misleading study to back it up.
I have suspected more is in play than what some would like us to believe. And I’m not the only one.
I’m gathering reactions from the biomass industry on these rules. If you have an opinion, please comment here and let us all know how it will affect you or how you think it could affect the industry. The impacts of this will reach beyond the Massachusetts state line, and include both proposed projects that will need to overhaul their development plans, as well operating plants that will need to close or invest in costly changes to comply.
It’s a frustrating development in our industry and will no doubt prompt criticism of woody biomass use that we’ll need to refute.