Friday, March 8, 2013

Kentucky opens door for more biomass

The good news for US biomass industry comes from Kentucky where Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed legislation into law that would make biomass power a lot more attractive option for electricity suppliers within the state.

Biomass refers to organic material — which includes the likes of corn, grass, wood but also waste and manure — that can be either burned or converted to fuel (biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel).

The bill, SB 46, that was signed into law on March 5 allows the Public Utilities Commission to let utilities recover costs not recovered in the existing rates of the utility for the purchase of electric power from a biomass power facility that has received a certificate from the Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting. The further specification of this bill say that no recovery will be allowed unless the full costs of the purchase agreement over the full term of the agreement have been found by the commission to be fair, just and reasonable.

The opponents of this bill say that it will drive up electricity rates and could also hurt domestic coal industry but the truth is that it is still too early to make these kind of predictions. Whether the creation of a large-scale biomass industry is a real threat to coal industry in coal thus still remains to be seen.

What this bill really means is that Kentucky wants biomass sector to help achieve its goals for more green energy jobs and improved energy independence. The choice for more biomass is really logical for the state because Kentucky has vast amount of land, including reclaimed mined land, that could be used to produce biomass.

Of course, the state also needs to make sure to develop a large-scale biomass industry without doing damage to food production, meaning that it should primarily focus on non-food biomass resources.