Biomass Power is a Natural Fit

By Bob Cleaves
Many policymakers in Congress share the common goal of moving the U.S. closer to energy independence and reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. To accomplish this goal, America must embrace energy policies that aggressively promote a diversity of sources and expand America's renewable portfolio. As Congress debates energy and climate legislation this summer, lawmakers should recognize that biomass power is a natural fit to increase America's energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create thousands of clean energy jobs in the process.

The Southeast U.S. may provide the greatest domestic growth potential for the increased use of biomass power. There is an abundance of woody forest waste in the Southeast, the trees grow quickly, and the entire region remains largely untapped. In other words, if there were a Saudi Arabia of biomass, the Southeastern U.S. would be it.

In other parts of the country, biomass power facilities continue to pop up-creating stable, well-paying jobs in the small, rural communities that need them the most. These facilities supply a steady and reliable flow of electricity to the local utilities, providing clean electricity 24/7. The fact that biomass provides a constant flow of electricity will help states more easily meet aggressive standards for renewable electricity. Additionally, an abundant supply of biomass power will help stabilize local utility prices when there are fluctuations in the market.

The Biomass Power Association has long supported implementing a federal renewable electricity standard (RES) of 25 percent by the year 2025. This national standard would provide the incentives necessary to jumpstart America's renewable energy sector and integrate renewable alternatives directly into the electricity grid. BPA remains optimistic that Congress will pursue an aggressive standard in order to promote renewable energy sources and develop the infrastructure necessary to become energy independent.

Biomass is an essential component to any national renewable electricity standard because it will allow Southeastern states without steady supplies of wind or solar energy to meet their renewable goals with biomass. What's more, a recent Navigant Jobs Study projected that an RES of 25 percent by 2025 would produce more than 70,000 new jobs in the biomass power industry alone.

Developing America's biomass power industry will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of American forests.

Biomass power is a natural fit to meet America's energy and climate goals. Promoting the expansion of biomass power will increase our energy security, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and create thousands of new jobs. The U.S. DOE projects that, with the right policies, biomass power could produce as much as 15 percent of our nation's electricity.

Producing more of our electricity from biomass makes sense from both an economic and environmental perspective. As an added bonus, biomass power will also never run out-it's renewable. If Congress is serious about addressing our energy needs and improving the environment, supporting biomass power should be the first step.

Bob Cleaves is president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association. To learn more about biomass power, please visit