On April 27, 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Energy
Resources (DOER) proposed final regulations governing the
eligibility of biomass energy for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
for compliance with the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio
Standard (RPS). Key provisions of DOER's proposed final
The proposed final rule would define "eligible biomass
woody fuel" to exclude whole tree chips unless from certain
thinning activities and include only slash, tops and branches with
additional eligibility criteria based on the soil quality at and
the size of the harvest site.
To be eligible for RECs, biomass generation units must
demonstrate an overall efficiency of 60% to achieve a full credit;
units achieving 50% efficiency earn only half a REC. It is our
understanding that few, if any, stand-alone biomass power plants
would meet the efficiency thresholds and that only a limited number
of cogeneration units may meet this threshold.
Qualifying units must file an annual report documenting
compliance with the biomass eligibility criteria.
Biomass power plants would be required to conduct life cycle
emissions analyses and demonstrate greenhouse gas emissions
reductions of at least 50% over 20 years.
Based on preliminary discussions with industry sources, we
understand that the proposed final DOER regulation would make it
infeasible, if not impossible, for most biomass power plants to
qualify for Massachusetts RECs. It is too soon to know what
implications the DOER rule will have on the future of the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which currently applies only to fossil
fuel-fired units, or to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine RPS
programs, which currently allow RECs from biomass generators to
meet their state RPS requirements.
A 30-day public comment period on the proposed final DOER
regulation will begin on May 19, 2012.
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