Draft regulation of Mass. woody biomass RPS eligibility filed

By Lisa Gibson | May 03, 2011

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) filed with the Clerk of the House May 3 a much-anticipated draft regulation that outlines woody biomass eligibility for the state’s 20 percent by 2025 renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Uncertainty has surrounded the biomass industry in the commonwealth since the DOER released a draft of RPS qualification regulations in September 2011. One of the main issues with the draft was the minimum efficiency standard of 40 percent for biomass power facilities to qualify, and unfortunately, it looks like this draft didn’t revise that rule.

The May draft says a low-emission, advanced biomass power conversion technology using an eligible biomass fuel can qualify as an RPS Class I Renewable Generation Unit if it can demonstrate a minimum of 40 percent efficiency on a quarterly basis, among several other criteria. The definition of eligible biomass fuel includes eligible biomass woody fuels, which are certain forest-derived residues, forest salvage, nonforest derived residues such as those from primary and secondary forest product industries, yard waste and dedicated energy crops.

The draft includes a number of provisions for those woody biomass fuels. For instance, a biomass fuel certificate must accompany every delivery of eligible woody biomass fuel or manufactured fuel to a generation unit. For forest-delivered eligible woody biomass fuel, the biomass fuel certificate must be issued with the eligible forest residue tonnage report, which details the amount of biomass that can be harvested, and includes one of a number of aspects including a signature of a professional forester who is certified by the Society of American Foresters, licensed by the host state of the harvest site, or certified by the DOER based on documentation that a professional forester has proficiency and experience in forestry, the draft specifies.

Whereas the September draft mandated that biomass harvests could not exceed 15 percent of the weight of all forest products, the new draft reads, “The total weight of the forest products shall be calculated utilizing weight standards by species provided by the Department in a Guideline. The allowable percent removal limit shall be determined as prescribed by the Department in a Guideline to protect soil nutrient retention in varying soil conditions.”

Overall, the draft includes numerous changes from the original, but still seems to be incredibley limiting for the Massachusett's biopower industry.

“We expect the regulation to be referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, who will have 30 days to review the regulation and provide their comments back to DOER,” said Dwayne Breger, director of renewable and alternative energy development for the DOER. “After considering these comments, DOER anticipates filing the final regulation after another 30 days for promulgation.”

To see the May 3 draft, click here.


4 Responses

  1. Josh Schlossberg



    It's time for the biomass industry to wake up and smell the emissions...stand-alone biomass power is on its way out. Y'all had a good run, but you knew your luck would run out eventually. It was only a matter of time.

  2. Joe Zorzin



    Hey Josh, I've been a forester for 38 years. In this biomass debate I started off listening very carefully to the critics, more so than any other forester on the planet and I understand the criticism, but you know, such criticism can be made of everything everybody does- every industry, and every person- there's not much perfection out there, but if you keep an open mind, biomass doesn't have to be as bad as you think it is. I've seen some excellent biomass harvests which are superb forestry- really good silviculture, not clearcutting or high grading. I think the large biomass electric power plants are not the way to go because they are so inefficient, but smaller, CHP biomass (especially if producing pellets so we can heat our houses without $4/gallon imported oil) can be much more efficient and Manomet report says they have a decent carbon payback period- as for air pollution, I've read that it's possible to build them with low pollution, not perfect, but the world ain't a perfect place! Also, on a personal basis, I've noticed that many of the ferociously anti biomass people don't mind flying in carbon spewing jets, they don't mind eating beef from carbon spewing cows, they drive in big cars and live in big houses, so they're not perfect either. Life is all about trade offs- and if you look close, some kinds of woody biomass are potentiall a good thing- but if you blindly say it's all bad, you're not being intellectally honest. So, do you eat beef, fly in jets, have a big car and live in a big house?

  3. Josh Schlossberg



    Mr. Zorzin, I personally don't advocate for or against CHP or wood heating, but acknowledge that they are more efficient and on a smaller scale. In my work I focus almost exclusively on opposing stand alone biomass power. Not that it has anything to do with protecting public health or forests, but I... 1. Haven't flown for 10 years 2. Have been vegetarian for 16 years 3. Rode a bicycle for 6 years and only recently purchased a small hybrid 4. Live in a small house But yes, everything does have an impact. The key is how to make less impact as we go along. Biomass power is moving in the wrong direction.

  4. Chumroen Benchavitvilai



    We are looking for the US technology and equipment provider for the biomass wood pellet production to jointly invest in the wood pellet production in Thailand and neighboring countries. The US interesting parties should have reliable technologies with past experiences in this field with the posisbility to finance the project with low financial cost. There is a the huge and consisting supply of the feedstock and the long term off take market (power utilities) . The interesting parties could contact us for more detail discussion Bioenergy Development Co.,Ltd. Tel +66851095555


    Leave a Reply

    Biomass Magazine encourages encourages civil conversation and debate. However, we reserve the right to delete comments for reasons including but not limited to: any type of attack, injurious statements, profanity, business solicitations or other advertising.

    Comments are closed