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April 21, 2016

Energy bill in US Senate labels biomass plants as renewable energy

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a wide-sweeping, bipartisan energy bill that includes language written by Maine U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King with the goal of keeping biomass power generators in the renewable energy marketplace.

According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, the Energy Policy Modernization Act would require federal agencies to identify biomass facilities as a source of carbon-neutral, renewable energy — as long as wood used in biomass facilities is harvested in a sustainable manner.

"If Congress is going to recognize that it's carbon neutral to take biomass if it's done sustainably it's kind of like giving us credit for an exam we took a year ago and got an 'A' on," Bob Cleaves of the Maine-based Biomass Power Association told MPBN.

Cleaves added that if the bill successfully makes its way through the House, it will be beneficial for Maine lawmakers by validating that biomass technology will be beneficial to the environment.

As reported by Mainebiz earlier in April, the recent closure of two Covanta Energy biomass power plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro resulted in the loss of 44 jobs.

The biomass industry in Maine employs 150 at plants across the state and indirectly provides employment for an additional 900. A quarter of the state's overall power supply comes from biomass facilities and it accounts for 60% of Maine's renewable energy portfolio, according to the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

Read more

#MBNext16: Charlotte Mace is driven to cement Maine's place in a biobased future

Industry insiders, lawmakers meet to chart future of biomass in Maine

King supports incentives for alternative forest product R&D

Lawmakers grapple with logging, biomass bills

Forest industry voices support for biomass aid bill

Loggers suffer one-two punch with mill and biomass plant closures

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