Mariposa Biomass Project applies for PPA through BioMAT program

By Erin Voegele | September 10, 2019

New progress has been made on a proposed 2-megawatt (MW) biomass power project located in Mariposa County, California. A partner in the project has taken a significant step toward obtaining a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for the sale of electricity.

Sweden-based technology company Cortus Energy, a partner in the Mariposa project, announced Aug. 30 it has authorized the funds necessary for the Mariposa Biomass Project to enter the queue for a PPA with PG&E under California’s Bioenergy Market Adjusting Tariff (BioMAT) program.

The BioMAT program, created by a California bill signed into law in 2012, is a feed-in tariff program for small bioenergy renewable generators of less than 5 MW in size. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, the BioMAT program offers up to 250 WM to eligible projects through a fixed-price standard contract to export electricity to California’s three large investor owned utilities. Electricity generated as part of the BioMAT program counts towards the utilities’ Renewable Portfolio Standard targets.

“For the program, a reverse auction procedure applies where Cortus today can reach the highest feed-in tariff of $199.97 [per] MWh,” Cortus said in a statement, noting some uncertainties about the future of the program existed during the first half of 2019 as PG&E was, and is, undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Cortus said became clear during the second quarter that the program will continue and PG&E will enter into new PPA contracts. With a two-year subsidized electricity price secured, Cortus said the project can now seriously invite partner and co-investors to the project.

“With the Mariposa project, we are opening the doors to the U.S. market where the state of California is a role model for sustainable electricity production,” said Håkan Sigfridsson, CEO of Cortus. “The project will also become a reference for upcoming SNG/RNG (synthetic natural gas/renewable natural gas) projects that have a huge potential throughout the U.S.”

The Mariposa Biomass Project, a local non-profit, released a statement Sept. 3 discussing the announcement made by Cortus. “This important step not only allows the MBP to meet one of the milestones in the project’s $5 million EPIC grant from the California Energy Commission,” said Jay Johnson, project CEO and Mariposa resident. “It is also a critical step in assuring potential investors of a guaranteed revenue stream, estimated to be about $4 million a year, for the 20-year duration of the purchase agreement.”

The California Energy Commission named MBP the recipient of a $5 million Electric Program Investment Charge grant in March 2017. The award was made as part of a two-phase, competitive CEC solicitation to fund applied research and development and technology demonstration and deployment activities to advance bioenergy electricity generation. 

The MBP aims to improve fire safety by using sustainably harvested woody biomass removed from around homes and infrastructure to create renewable energy. The facility will be located at the Mariposa Industrial Park and connect to a nearby PG&E substation.