Massachusetts proposes to change RPS eligibility for biomass

By Erin Voegele | April 20, 2021

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources is seeking public comments on two new proposed revisions to the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) pertaining to biomass that would implement an efficiency requirement and prevent biomass projects in certain areas from qualifying for the RPS program.

One of the proposed amendments would require all biomass generation units with a commercial operation date after Dec. 31, 2020, to meet a 60 percent overall efficiency requirement, regardless of feedstock type. Under a previous proposal, facilities that took in non-forest derived material as fuel would have been exempt from the efficiency requirements.  

The second proposed amendment would prohibit generation units using eligible biomass wood fuel from qualifying for the RPS program if they are located within an environmental justice population or within 5 miles of an environmental justice population. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, a neighborhood is defined as an environmental justice population if the annual median household income in a block group is equal to or less than 65 percent of the statewide median ($62,072 in 2010), or 25 percent or more of the residents identify as a race other than white, or if 25 percent or more of households have no one over the age of 14 who speaks English only or very well.

The comment period is open through May 17. Additional information is available on the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources website