BOSTON – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) today adopted the final Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Class I regulations, implementing changes to biomass energy eligibility.
“Massachusetts is a leader in addressing the issues of biomass energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and the implementation of these regulations is on the forefront of national and international renewable energy and climate policy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan.
The adoption of the final regulations comes after more than two years of evaluation, public input, and careful consideration of how best to utilize woody biomass resources for energy in a manner consistent with the Commonwealth’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect forests.
The enactment of the regulation now ends the moratorium on the qualification of woody biomass for the RPS Class I that DOER imposed in December 2009.
A draft of the regulation was filed in May 2011 and was the subject of two public hearings, a written public comment period and comments from the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.
Based on those comments, DOER officials had incorporated a number of changes to the draft regulations in April. Officials then offered the regulation again for a 30-day public comment period between May 19 and June 18, 2012, after which the final regulation was prepared and filed for promulgation.
“The adoption of this revised regulation and guidelines demonstrates the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to advancing the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals and greenhouse gas reduction commitments based on sound science and prudent policy,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “Through this regulation and other initiatives, DOER believes there is a role for biomass energy in the Commonwealth focused on high efficiency use of the limited sustainable wood resource.”
The RPS program requires all retail electricity suppliers in the Commonwealth to obtain a minimum percentage of their supply from eligible renewable energy generation sources. After passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) in 2008, which requires the Commonwealth to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions across the economy 80 percent by 2050, DOER hired Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to study the long-term greenhouse gas implications of utilizing biomass for electrical energy generation.