April 22, 2016

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

U.S. Senate Passes Energy Bill with Biomass Carbon Neutrality, Thermal Energy "Renewable" Amendments

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 85-12 to pass the Energy Policy Modernization Act-S. 2012. The legislation is the first meaningful energy bill to pass the Senate in almost a decade. The legislation is wide ranging, covering areas related to energy efficiency to oil exports to smart manufacturing. We wanted to alert PFI members to this development and call your attention to a few provisions in the bill that we worked hard to secure. They are:

  1. Biomass Carbon Neutrality.  The bill includes a provision directing EPA and other federal agencies to recognize the carbon neutrality of sustainably sourced forest based biomass fuels/energy in any federal air and energy regulatory actions. This language is helpful in our advocacy with EPA to establish a clear, supportive policy regarding biomass in the context of the Clean Power Plan and related/subsequent regulatory proceedings. As we witnessed earlier this month at an EPA workshop, state officials are supportive of including biomass in their state compliance plans for the Clean Power Plan but are frustrated over the lack of clear guidance coming from EPA. It is also painfully evident that a number of environmental groups are vehemently opposed to any recognition of biomass energy's carbon benefits and those groups weighed in heavily against this provision.   

  2. Thermal Energy as "Renewable."  The bill opens up the federal renewable energy purchase requirement-put in place by the Energy Policy Act of 2005-- to allow federal departments and agencies to count thermal energy towards their renewable energy utilization goals.   Currently electricity is the only energy pathway that counts.   We worked dozens of Congressional offices and committee staffs in the House and Senate to include this provision, lobbying in close collaboration with our brethren in the geothermal and solar thermal spaces. This provision is one piece of our overall effort to achieve parity for thermal energy in the context of federal policy recognition of energy pathways and technologies. 

One other provision that we were not actively involved in, but may positively affect markets for densified biomass fuel is an amendment put forward by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would incentivize coal fired utilities to co-fire with biomass. The provision stipulates that biomass combustion would have "net-negative carbon emissions" when paired with carbon capture and sequestration technologies. Like the carbon neutrality language, environmental groups have come unglued over this language and sent a letter earlier this week opposing both the Manchin and Collins amendments. It was signed by over 75 groups.      

Next Steps: The bill now goes to a Senate-House conference committee to reconcile the differences between its provisions and the language of House-passed H.R. 8. Recall that H.R. 8 has language repealing the NSPS for wood heaters. Leadership is hopeful to have a final package ready to send to the president within the next two months.    

Once the conferees are appointed, we will be reaching out to you to make contact with these legislators to express support for keeping the provisions outlined above in the final package.



International Biomass Conference and Expo Recap - Charlotte, NC

The International Biomass Conference was held April 11-14 at the Charlotte Convention Center, in Charlotte, NC. Several PFI members were among the over 1,000 attendees. This conference covered everything biomass-related, including the domestic and export pellet industries.

On Monday, April 11th, a pre-conference event, the Global Pellet Market Outlook Summary was held. With the focus strictly on pellets, this event addressed the emerging Asian and Korean pellet markets, as well as domestic residential and industrial pellet market outlooks.  

The General Session on Tuesday kicked off with an Executive Roundtable with bioenergy association leaders: Seth Ginther, Executive Director - USIPA; Dan Wilson, Board Chair - BTEC; Bob Cleaves, President and CEO - Biomass Power Association; Patrick Serfass, Executive Director - American Biogas Council; and Stephen Faehner, Chairman - PFI. All of the leaders gave an update on the initiatives their respective associations were currently involved in and several commented on their government affairs activities; many focused on the BTU Act and FAA Bill. This was a great opportunity for the attendees to hear about how the various trade associations represented on the roundtable interact with their members and provide feedback to government branches that have an impact on the biomass industry as whole.

The conference's breakout sessions also included four separate tracks titled Pellets & Densified Biomass, Biomass Power and Thermal, Biogas & Landfill and Advanced Biofuels and Bio-based Chemicals. The featured speakers covered everything from the importance of building biomass supply chains to the impact of a growing wood pellet industry on forest and carbon inventories.

Save the Date!

The date is set for PFI's 2016 Annual Conference. Join us July 24-26 at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC! 

The PFI Annual Conference highlights the various applications of densified biomass, as well as trends and best practices within the densified biomass industry. It attracts a broad range of individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, and local, state and national governments from North America and beyond. The conference features two days of educational sessions as well as industry exhibits, extensive networking opportunities and a golf tournament. 

Visit PFI's website for more information. Be sure to watch this space, as registration will open soon! Sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities are available now!

Upcoming Industry Events

June 6-9, 2016 : European Biomass Conference & Exhibition

June 15-17, 2016
: International Bioenergy Conference

July 24-26, 2016
: PFI Annual Conference

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Are you a PFI member pellet manufacturer or distributor that has fuel available? Email [email protected] to have your listing updated or added to the PFI website.

Industry News

Senate passes Energy Bill with pro-biomass amendment
Biomass Magazine
On April 20, the U.S. Senate passed new energy legislation by a vote of 85 to 12. The bill, titled the Energy Policy Modernization Act, or S. 2012, contains an amendment that recognizes the carbon neutrality of biomass energy.

The amendment was offered by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and cosponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Angus King, I-Maine; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Michael Crapo, R-Idaho; and James Risch, R-Idaho. 

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Company announces construction of new $5 million, 25,000-square-foot bay in south Chattanooga
Chattanooga Times Free Press
White afternoon cloud cover reflected off the shiny convex surface of an Astec Double Barrel asphalt drum dryer and mixer, as Malcolm Swanson, president of Chattanooga-based Astec Inc. stood on a metal platform nearby above a blacktop parking lot and talked to a gathering of employees about how soon all of this would be under roof.

Inside and gathered around a corral of temporary orange construction fencing, dozens of Astec workers paused from their day's work to hear Swanson's short speech...

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$900K in state grants awarded to 16 wood pellet projects
WCAX - Vermont 
Some Vermont schools and housing groups have received a total of more than $900,000 in state grant money to develop cleaner, renewable biomass heat.

The Rutland Herald reports the state's Clean Energy Development Fund on Monday handed out money to 16 projects to support wood pellet infrastructure.

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Ketchikan airport's new boiler to fire up soon
KRBD - Alaska 
Ketchikan International Airport is just a few weeks away from switching its heat source to a high-efficiency biomass boiler system.

I rode over to Gravina Island with Karen Petersen. She was in town for a quick visit from Prince of Wales Island specifically to see the airport's new biomass boiler.

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Pellet Fuels Institute |  [email protected]   | 703.522.6778