New England Biomass Faces New Challenges As Connecticut Changes RPS

Connecticut recently released its long-awaited Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which contains bad news (though expected) for biomass in New England. There’s only one biomass plant in Connecticut: the 37.5 MW Plainfield Renewable Energy facility that opened in 2013. However, due to the interconnected nature of New England’s electricity grid, biomass plants across the region that participate […]

Connecticut recently released its long-awaited Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which contains bad news (though expected) for biomass in New England.

There’s only one biomass plant in Connecticut: the 37.5 MW Plainfield Renewable Energy facility that opened in 2013. However, due to the interconnected nature of New England’s electricity grid, biomass plants across the region that participate in Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will be impacted by the Strategy. This includes biomass electric plants in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Through the mandated purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), Connecticut utilities financially support biomass plants by purchasing the “renewable” portion of their renewable power. For over a decade, Connecticut has been an essential market for RECs, providing revenue that keeps the plants operating and chips coming in by the truckload.

However, Connecticut has decided to use its RPS to support the development of “new, zero-carbon resources in New England.” One way to do that is to push out biomass, or at least make less of it eligible for RECs.

When 1-megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity is generated, one REC is issued, which can be sold to utilities that use it to show that they purchased renewable electricity. Connecticut’s new plan over the next decade plus is to phase down biomass and landfill gas. Once a plant has been participating in the Connecticut RPS for a certain period of time – 20 years for new facilities, 15 years for existing facilities – only half of the RECs generated at a facility will be eligible for participation in Connecticut’s RPS. These limits will start impacting some facilities as early as 2020; others won’t see a reduction in eligibility until 2034.

From Forest2Market: https://blog.forest2market.com/more-challenges-for-new-england-biomass-as-connecticut-changes-rps

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