Massachusetts Poised to Slash Biomass Power Subsidies
– by Meg Sheehan
In the coming weeks, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is scheduled to issue Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations that will require energy producers seeking “renewable energy credits” to meet strict standards: (1) approximately 40% efficiency (biomass power is about 25% efficient and still gets “green” energy credits) (2) proof that their greenhouse gas emissions are lower than fossil fuel combustion (3) and compliance with forest harvesting limits.
The Fall 2010 DOER RPS proposed regulations for biomass energy were met with a fierce backlash from over fourteen state and national public health and environmental groups. These groups are demanding that the state follow the science it commissioned in the “Manomet” Study, saying that the weakened proposed regulations were the result of demands of biomass industry lobbyists.
The biomass power industry is clearly terrified that Massachusettswill start a trend of slashing ratepayer subsidies for biomass energy under the RPS. When Covanta Energy went across the border toAlbany,NY, in mid-November to try to get trash burning added to the list of “renewable energy” sources eligible for public subsidies, they faced a similar backlash. Armed with its new reports the well-organized people’s anti-incinerator coalition fired back saying that incineration is the most expensive form of energy production per unit of electricity produced.