Ore. energy plan calls for shift in biomass investment approach

By Luke Geiver | December 18, 2012

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber believes energy is the issue of our time, and to address the issue, he has released a 10-year Energy Action Plan. The 48-page plan, put together with the help of hundreds of state-based representatives, groups and the Oregon Forest Biomass Working Group, took more than six months. The final version includes a recommendation section on bioenergy and biomass-based thermal energy development.

“No single issue will have a greater impact on our state’s economy, environment and quality of life in the coming decade,” Kitzhaber said, “and I am committed to pursuing the policy, programs and practices needed to ensure we shape a prosperous and sustainable future.”

To continue development in the biomass utilization sector, the plan calls for a shift in incentive investments away from fuel source collection to investment in institutional boiler, cogeneration and cellulosic biofuel production facilities. Doing so, the plan states, will support key industries including the food processing, forest products, dairy and production agriculture sectors. The plan also aims at integrating local energy sources into residential, commercial and industrial buildings to drive down energy spending by the government, school districts and others.

Further support from the Clean Fuels Program, a program instituted in 2009 that calls for a 10 percent ethanol blend in gasoline and a 5 percent blend of biodiesel in diesel, will help the state’s push to support advanced biofuel production facilities. The plan calls for the extension of the CFP, set to sunset in 2015.

To help with the regulatory process, the plan recommends better coordination between several governing entities in the state and other working groups ranging from the Integrated Water Resources Strategy to the Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions. And the plan also calls for a greater implementation of anaerobic digestion technology and the continued use of woody biomass.

Thermal energy will need a state-wide assessment, according to the plan, which will allow the state to tailor a program to spur on investment in thermal energy applications.

The main body of the plan is based on three core strategies: meeting 100 percent of new electric load growth through energy efficiency and conservation, enhancing energy infrastructure while removing financial and regulatory barriers to new investments and new technologies, and, to accelerate the market to a more efficient, lower-cost and cleaner transportation system. “We have a tremendous opportunity to build a more competitive and resilient economy while improving the health of the environment,” Kitzhaber said of the plan.