Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo to offer panels on financing and building the biomass industry

By Rona Johnson | May 31, 2010
Posted July 1, 2010 at 4:00 P.M.

Interest in biomass-based power is on the rise as many U.S. states increase their renewable portfolio standards and others pass legislation requiring power providers to decrease their carbon footprint and utilize renewable energy. The Northeast Biomass Conference & Expo will feature a panel aimed specifically for those developing or planning to develop biomass-based power projects.

This regional event, which is being held Aug. 4-6 in Boston, will include 60 speakers who will address a host of topics of interest including biomass feedstock supply and logistics, combined heat-and-power applications, biomass briquettes, biorefining and biomass power plant conversions.

The project development and financing tract will focus on issues such as finding financing, commercializing new technologies, state and federal funding opportunities and lean construction techniques.

Conference attendees interested in government funding for biomass power plants and feedstocks will want to hear the latest information on USDA's Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Gregory Lynch, a partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, will discuss the BCAP during his presentation called Notice of Funding Availability-Matching Payments.

The notice of funding opportunity for the BCAP was issued in May 2009 for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation (CHST) of eligible biomass material intended for facilities that convert it into power, heat, biobased products or biofuels.

"That program was halted in February 2010 and the USDA issued new proposed rules to correct some problems, and laid out a couple of ways to establish the new rules and to establish dedicated energy crops," Lynch said. "I am hoping that they will be implemented by the time of the conference but from what I've been hearing it probably won't happen. If not, I will provide an update on the status of the rules."

Along with matching payments for delivery of eligible material to biomass conversion facilities, the BCAP will also offer payments to producers in designated areas to help with the cost of establishing biomass crops.

"Our involvement is in assisting biomass conversion facilities and the suppliers in setting up supply arrangements using BCAP payments to help finance the facilities or for the producers to obtain financing based on that program," Lynch says.

On a national level, the USDA estimated that 5,423 contracts have been granted as of May 18, totaling more than $224 million in matching CHST payments.

Sherry Jean Olson, a financial forecast analyst with Christianson & Associates PLLP will join Lynch with her presentation called A Profitable Start-Up Business-The Importance of Creating a Financing Model.

Sarah Hewitt, a partner with law firm Blank Rome LLP, will round out the panel with her presentation titled Incentives, Grants and Other Federal and State Benefits for Financing Biomass Power Projects.

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