Arizona bioenergy producer urges EPA to process eRIN applications

By Erin Voegele | February 01, 2019

Novo Power, a 28 MW biomass power plant located in Snowflake, Arizona, is urging the U.S. EPA to quickly process applications to allow biomass power producers to participate in the Renewable Fuel Program.

On Jan. 32, Brad Worsley, president and CEO of Novo Power, send a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler asking him to begin processing applications that would allow biomass power producers to generate e-renewable identification numbers (eRINs) under the RFS.

In his letter, Worsley notes his company has been engaged in the critical restoration of Arizona’s natural forests for the past 10 years. “We support over 150 full-time jobs in the region in order to thin, move, and burn biomass in our national forest,” he said. “Our 28 MW biomass facility is the keystone in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the largest collaborative forest landscape restoration project in the country.”

According to Worsley, in areas where Novo is able to utilize the high-hazard fuels and biomass cleared out of forests, restoration efforts are being completed at a rate of 15,000 acres annually. However, in areas where Novo is unable to take the biomass, less than 2,000 acres are being restored annually.

Worsley said Novo has four years remaining on its current power purchase agreements (PPAs). “Without the correct monetization of the value created by our facility (such as credits generated under the RFS), we will likely not be able to renew our PPAs,” he wrote. “If this happens, many of the restoration efforts in Arizona will unfortunately come to an abrupt stop and forests may become more susceptible to wildfire.”

The letter points out Congress agreed 11 years ago that electricity generated from renewable sources should be eligible to participate in the RFS. While the EPA approved application of the RFS program to renewable energy sources, such as bioenergy plants, four years ago, the agency has failed to act on that approval by processing formal applications from renewable electricity producers seeking to certification under the RFS.

Worsley said Novo Power intends to seek certification under the RFS, and stressed that participation in the RFS is essential to the financial well-being of the Novo facility. “It is only fair that biomass power plants be entitled to benefit from the RFS on an equal footing with other generators of renewable energy, such as wind and solar,” he wrote. “We respectfully urge you to act on all outstanding registration requests as expeditiously as possible, and to issue a final conclusion on the regulatory structure for the electric RIN pathway.”