DOER announces renewable portfolio standard Class II suspension

By Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources | August 24, 2012

This week, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Secretary Rick Sullivan directed officials from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to begin a moratorium on the qualification of woody biomass units for the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard Class II program, which supports pre-1998 renewable energy generation. Sullivan also directed DOER officials to begin a rulemaking process on the RPS Class II regulation to incorporate carbon emissions limits and accounting from biomass plants, in a manner consistent with the final regulations for the RPS Class I program.

Under this direction, DOER Commissioner Sylvia has issued the suspension, effective immediately.  The moratorium will be lifted only after the rulemaking is complete.

The adoption of the recently revised RPS Class I regulation demonstrates the commonwealth’s dedication to developing policies based on sound science to establish biomass as an important renewable energy source. As DOER begins work on Class II, we will continue to solicit public feedback to aid us in making rules that support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We will continue to make revisions to the RPS programs that ensure biomass electric generation units can contribute to reducing the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting emerging biomass markets and technologies that utilize supplies efficiently.

The RPS program requires all retail electricity suppliers in the state to obtain a minimum percentage of their supply from eligible renewable energy generation sources. After passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008, which requires the Commonwealth to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions across the economy 80 percent by 2050, DOER hired Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to study the long-term greenhouse gas implications of utilizing biomass for electrical energy generation. In 2009, DOER implemented the RPS Class II program and to date, no biomass units have sought qualification for the program.

The Secretary’s letter on the Class II regulation directive and the Commissioner’s letter announcing the Class II suspension can be found on the Biomass web page.