Commission to study Maine’s biomass industry to meet in August

By Katie Fletcher | July 29, 2016

A commission put together by Maine legislature to study economic, environmental and energy benefits of Maine’s biomass industry is scheduled to hold its first meeting Aug. 2. The commission is required to report the results of its study and any recommendations for implemented legislation by the end of the year.

This past April, Maine enacted a resolve establishing the 13-member commission. Members include two from the Senate and three from the House of Representatives. Four members are appointed by the president of the Senate, including a commercial wood harvester who supplies biomass, a representative of the biomass electric industry, a representative of a sawmill located in the state and a scientist from the University of Maine who studies forest health and silviculture. The remaining four members are appointed by the speaker of the house, including representation from a conservation organization, a pulp and paper manufacturer located in the state, commercial timber holdings in the state, and a business that uses biomass for thermal generation or cogeneration or an expert in the use of biomass energy for thermal generation or cogeneration.

In order to prepare the report, the commission is directed to 1) review and evaluate the economic, environmental and energy benefits of Maine's biomass resources, as well as public policy and economic proposals to create and maintain a sustainable future for the Maine biomass industry; 2) consider the interconnection of economic markets for biomass and forest products and the energy policy of the state; 3) consider whether the environmental, economic and energy benefits of biomass support updating the state's energy policy to strengthen and increase the role that biomass and the forest products industry play throughout the state; 4) consider the costs of implementing any recommendations and the effect of leaving current policies in place; and 5) examine any other issues to further the purposes of the study.

The report and any recommendations are to be submitted by no later than Dec. 6, 2016 to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Besides establishing the biomass commission, Maine passed a bill to inject a maximum of $13.4 million into the biomass power sector via renewed and new power purchase agreements. The legislation titled “An Act to Establish a Process for the Procurement of Biomass Resources,” was enacted into law by Maine Gov. Paul LePage in April. Related to this legislation, on June 17, Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a request for proposals for the sale of biomass resources. According to information published by the government of Maine, the new law directs PUC to initiate a competitive solicitation for the procurement of energy from up to 80 MW of biomass resources. Proposals had a submission deadline of today.