– by John Lippman, June 30, 2018, Valley News
Photo: New Hampshire Business Review
Eric Cole was at home on Poverty Lane making dinner earlier this month when his phone rang. One of his customers was calling with bad news: A new $390,000 logging skidder that Cole, a heavy equipment salesman, had just delivered would have to be returned.
The customer, an Upper Valley logger whom Cole declined to identify, explained that Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto the day before of a bill that would have required utilities to purchase a portion of their electricity from the state’s wood-burning power plants had dealt a blow to his business. He would no longer be able to afford the $5,000 monthly payments for the piece of machinery that grabs logs, hauls them out of the woods and loads them onto trucks.
– by Daniela Allee, June 27, 2018, NHPR
Governor Sununu signed a bill on Wednesday that would extend the subsidy for the Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin by three years.
Under a 2011 agreement, Eversource pays Burgess at above-market prices. That’s capped at 100 million dollars, but that could be reached sooner than anticipated.
So, with this new bill, the subsidy will continue for three years after hitting the cap.
Those who opposed this bill argued that those above-market prices would be passed on to customers.
– by Ethan DeWitt, June 19, 2018, Concord Monitor
Photo: Biomass Power Association
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed two energy-related bills on Tuesday in a bid to block efforts he says would have cost electric ratepayers about $110 million over three years. But key members of his party are bristling at the move, calling the bills a vital lifeline for the biomass and timber industry in the North Country — and they say they have the votes to override it.
One bill, Senate Bill 365, would require utilities to purchase power from New Hampshire’s six independent biomass power plants. Supporters of the bill said on Tuesday it was critical to the survival of the plants and the 900 jobs they support, including one plant in Penacook. But Sununu said on Tuesday that the bill amounted to an “immense subsidy” for the companies.
– by Erin Voegele, June 29, 2018, Biomass Magazine
On June 28, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote. The legislation, titled “The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018,” includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. The Agricultural Energy Coalition has spoken out to applaud the senate for its action.
The Energy Title includes a variety of programs that benefit the bioenergy and biofuels industries, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
– 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 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.