Oregon Senate passes bill adding woody biomass to green tech list

By Anna Simet | April 17, 2017

Passed in a 30-0 vote, Oregon Senate has passed a bill that adds woody biomass to list of types of green energy generating technology that must be included in the construction, reconstruction or renovation of public buildings.

According to Oregon law, public entities must spend 1.5 percent of the total price of a public improvement contract for new construction, or the major renovation of a public building, on green energy technology. The bill lists public entities as including state agencies, community colleges, school districts and education services districts and local government.

Senate Bill 634, sponsored by Oregon Sens. Tim Knopp and Chuck Thomsen, would add woody biomass used as a fuel for space heating or water heating, or as a fuel for a combined-heat-and-power-system, to the list of qualifying green energy technology. Geothermal was the latest technology added to the eligibility list, in 2012.

Several organizations submitted testimony in support of the bill, including the Association of Oregon Counties, the Carpenters Industrial Council, Sustainable Northwest, and the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners, all of which highlighted the benefits of using woody biomass as a fuel source, including hazardous fuel removal/wildfire prevention, job creation, waste reduction, energy independence, energy cost and carbon reductions and local economic benefits.

The bill now moves on to the Oregon House.