Calif. bill would incentivize community-scale biopower

By Anna Simet | June 04, 2012

A bill that’s on its way to the California Senate floor would compensate producers and collectors of biomass materials associated with forest fuel reduction and fire prevention activities when they are delivered to eligible biomass facilities for use as a fuel source.

Assembly Bill 2390 points out that several large fires have resulted in significant costs to California investor-owned utilities, therefore affecting electricity rates. These costs include actual cost settlements with homeowners, fire suppression cost reimbursement to the state and federal emergency service agencies, transmission and distribution equipment replacement and ever increasing costs of insuring utility infrastructure. 

The bill recognizes that the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (DFFP) estimates that almost 25 million acres of forest are considered high- and medium-priority landscapes at risk to wildfire, and that reducing future fire risks would benefit ratepayers.

Eligible facilities will be community-scale plants 3 MW or under, must use forest biomass materials such as shrubs, limbs and small trees collected from an area identified by the DFFP as high and medium priority landscapes, and must be located in such an area.

If the bill is passed in the Senate, the California Energy Commission will be charged with establishing the incentive program.