Gov. LePage signs bill to boost Maine’s biomass industry

By Erin Voegele | April 21, 2016

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has signed legislation that will inject up to $13.4 million into the state’s biomass sector via renewed and new power purchase agreements. The legislation, titled “An Act to Establish a Process for the Procurement of Biomass Resources,” passed the state House and Senate April 15.

As previously reported by Biomass Magazine, expiring contracts, low energy prices and the elimination of incentives in neighboring states have pushed the state’s biomass sector to the brink of collapse. Earlier this year, Covanta Energy shut down two of its Maine biomass power plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro, Maine, citing energy prices as being insufficient to cover operation and fuel supply costs. The state’s largest biomass power producer, ReEnergy Holdings LLC has also faced challenges. During hearing testimonies regarding the bill, CEO Larry Richardson said that ReEnergy’s plants support an estimated 700 indirect jobs in the state, 105 direct jobs, and are budgeted to spend more than $92 million in Maine this year, purchasing about 1.8 million tons of low-value fiber.