– by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Mario Parker, June 7, 2018, Bloomberg News
A day after a tentative agreement to overhaul U.S. biofuel policy appeared to collapse amid farm-state concerns, EPA chief Scott Pruitt met to discuss the issue with the lead senator pushing for the changes: Ted Cruz.
Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, declined to comment on the June 6 meeting, but Cruz said it included discussion about the Renewable Fuel Standard and had been planned well before reports June 4 that a White House-brokered accord was unraveling. Cruz stressed that a deal to overhaul the biofuel policy could be revived.
“The conversations are ongoing,” Cruz said. “And I continue to believe that there is a positive win-win solution for everyone.”
– by Mark Lisheron, May 7, 2018, Texas Monitor
For almost six years, Austin Energy customers have been paying about $54 million a year for a power plant in East Texas not to produce biomass energy.
Those customers also paid $128 million to build the plant.
Nearly two years ago, the city of Austin hired a staff of attorneys to see if Austin Energy could get out from under a 20-year contract that even supporters of the wood-burning power plant came to see as a terrible deal for utility customers.
– by Rukhushan Mir, May 10, 2018, Urdu Point
Photo: Urdu Point
Electricity generation from solar resources in the United States reached 77 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2017, surpassing annual generation from biomass resources for the first time, the U.S.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. According to the EIA, among renewable sources, only hydro and wind generated more electricity in 2017, at 300 million MWh and 254 million MWh, respectively.
Biomass generating capacity has remained relatively unchanged recently, while solar generating capacity has consistently risen. Annual growth in solar generation often lags annual capacity additions because generating capacity tends to be added late in the year.
– by Steve Mistler, April 5, 2018, Maine Public Radio
Photo: Maine Public Radio
The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to approve a $1.2 million taxpayer subsidy to an embattled biomass company operating two plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro.
The vote by the three-member commission largely followed the recommendation of PUC staff, which found last month that Stored Solar LLC met only one of its three contract obligations, while falling well short of the other two.
It maintained the agreed upon number of jobs, but purchased less than 40 percent of the waste wood it promised, and it spent $1 million less on capital expenditures than it was supposed to.
– by Tux Turkel, May 22, 2018, Portland Press Herald
The University of Maine in Orono would get much of its heat and electricity from an on-campus Renewable Energy Center fueled by locally harvested wood and a huge solar array, according to a plan being negotiated by the university system and Honeywell International.
The outline of Honeywell’s power contract proposal is contained in a document prepared for the University of Maine System last year in response to requests for proposals to transition most of the Orono campus from natural gas and fuel oil to renewable energy. Honeywell’s proposal was a runner-up in the original RFP process. The financial section is heavily redacted and omits any information about the cost of the power contract, although it has been estimated to be worth more than $100 million.
– by Emery Cowan, May 26, 2018, Arizona Daily Sun
APS is looking for new proposals that would use the small trees and branches from Arizona forests to generate a small portion of the energy the utility sends to customers around the state.
The idea is to provide a market for woody material that needs to be thinned from overcrowded, high-risk forests in northern and eastern Arizona in order to reduce the risk of severe wildfires, improve forest health and benefit watersheds.
There’s one big problem, though, according to the head of the state’s only utility-scale biomass power plant.