Massachusetts Includes Wood Biomass In Alternative Energy Standards

The state’s Department of Energy Resources has filed its proposed final version of guidelines that will allow the burning of tree material, as well as other technologies, to qualify for financial incentives as renewable energy sources. The final draft regulations, which were filed on Friday, provide subsidies for “woody biomass” — in other words, the […]

The state’s Department of Energy Resources has filed its proposed final version of guidelines that will allow the burning of tree material, as well as other technologies, to qualify for financial incentives as renewable energy sources.

The final draft regulations, which were filed on Friday, provide subsidies for “woody biomass” — in other words, the burning of wood chips or pellets made from trees and cleared brush. As part of a 2014 law backed by the logging industry, the state has included biomass boilers in its “Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard,” or APS. Other technologies in the portfolio include geothermal and solar thermal.

The APS was intended to “contribute to the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals by increasing energy efficiency and reducing the need for conventional fossil fuel-based power generation,” according to a description on the state’s website. Many environmentalists, however, have condemned the new rules on biomass, which they see as likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pollution and deforestation.

“On every level that you look at this thing, it’s bad from our perspective,” Laura Haight, senior policy director at Pelham’s Partnership For Policy Integrity, told the Gazette. “From the biomass industry’s perspective it is great.”

Haight’s group has criticized the inclusion of biomass, citing research that shows biomass can produce more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. Critics have also raised concerns over the wood-smoke pollution created when burning biomass, and say the state’s proposed financial incentives may lead to the clear-cutting of forests.

From the Amherst Bulletin: http://www.amherstbulletin.com/state-issues-regulations-on-alternative-energy-biomass-14447952

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