Arizona Regulators Explore Ramping Up Use Of Forest Biomass For Power

Should utility customers pay a surcharge for bioenergy that helps utilize trees thinned from Arizona’s overstocked forests? That was one possibility discussed last week at a first-ever workshop on forest bioenergy hosted by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Representatives from some of the state’s largest utilities, businesses, nonprofits, the Forest Service, and state and local governments […]

Should utility customers pay a surcharge for bioenergy that helps utilize trees thinned from Arizona’s overstocked forests? That was one possibility discussed last week at a first-ever workshop on forest bioenergy hosted by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Representatives from some of the state’s largest utilities, businesses, nonprofits, the Forest Service, and state and local governments all had a chance to weigh in at the workshop, which focused on the problem of biomass in Arizona’s forests and the opportunities and commercial viability of using that forest material to generate power.

“We’re looking at…addressing it in a way that we can make some significant progress in bringing back the health of our forests,” said Commissioner Boyd Dunn, who initiated the workshop. “We’re here discussing an opportunity to address this whole issue by utilizing the Arizona Corporation Commission as a catalyst.”

Among the topics discussed was what it might cost ratepayers to support an expansion of bioenergy in the state, with estimates ranging from $4 per month to less than $1 per month.

“The impact to the consumer will be negligible,” said Brad Worsley, the CEO of the state’s only utility-scale biomass power plant in Snowflake, as he discussed costs of building another plant in Arizona.

From the Arizona Daily Sun: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/arizona-regulators-explore-ramping-up-use-of-forest-biomass-for/article_5f8df2cc-82a7-59ca-bf90-15b0481d1ad0.html

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