BPA supports amendment passed by house that boosts biomass

By Katie Fletcher | December 07, 2015

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt an amendment offered by Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, to the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015, or H.R. 8. The amendment clarifies the eligibility of biomass for Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act contracts.  

In response to the announcement, Biomass Power Association issued a statement thanking Poliquin for the amendment, which BPA said benefits biomass.

“We profoundly thank Congressman Poliquin and his staff for their hard work to help level the playing field for biomass power producers,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of Biomass Power Association. “This amendment will ensure that biomass is eligible for certain contracts. It will help keep workers employed at biomass facilities across the country, and provide additional benefits like forest health and the reduction of fossil-powered electricity.”

The amendment for H.R. 8 defines the length of contracts granted through the PURPA of 1978, making clear that contracts as short as one year will qualify. According to the BPA, this benefits biomass power providers, who must plan for their fuel use in shorter increments than other fuel-based power providers like coal facilities.

“I am very pleased my colleagues in the house supported my amendment to allow reliable and efficient energy producers to operate without arbitrary restraints from regulators,” Poliquin said. “Low-cost, carbon-neutral biomass technology is transforming our communities in Maine.  As America’s wood basket, Maine is one of the primary producers of reliable biomass energy.”

Under the bill, PURPA requires each electric utility to develop a plan to use resiliency-related technologies and other approaches designed to improve the resilience of electric infrastructure, mitigate power outages, continue delivery of vital services and maintain the flow of power to critical facilities. PURPA also requires each electric utility to develop and implement a plan for deploying advanced energy analytics technologies, and adopt or modify policies to ensure that such electric utility incorporates reliable generation into its integrated resource plan.

“My amendment will create jobs for Mainers by giving the biomass and wood products industries in our State regulatory certainty,” Poliquin said. “It ensures that all power sources are able to compete on a fair playing field—particularly biomass energy, which typically only can get supply for 12 months in advance—by revising the standard for all fuels so as to not favor one over the other.  It recognizes that some new and cleaner fuel sources, like biomass, are in more cyclical markets.”

Poliquin added that, “In addition, this amendment will make affordable energy available for thousands by lifting burdensome regulations on clean and dependable American energy producers, specifically Maine’s quality biomass plants.”