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CA Board of Forestry Adopts Biomass Utilization Plan

On November 4, the California Board of Forestry adopted a forest biomass utilization plan that recommends many actions to put California’s extensive forest waste to beneficial re-use, including numerous bioenergy recommendations.  Some of the most important recommendations related to bioenergy are:

  • Consolidated permitting
  • State procurement of bioenergy
  • Inclusion of forest biomass in microgrid tariffs
  • Allocating 20% of electricity and gas R&D funding (EPIC and PIER) to forest biomass, including biomass to hydrogen projects
  • Adopting pipeline standards for biomass and hydrogen
  • Incentivizing both electricity and pipeline interconnection for forest biomass projects
  • Incentivizing use of forest biomass under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard
  • Increasing BioMAT category 3 (forest waste) to 250 MW and allowing Community Choice Aggregators (CCA’s) and publicly owned utilities to participate in the program
  • Requiring a portion of new RPS power to be baseload and flexible generation

Read:  Joint Institute Wood and Biomass Utilization Recommendations

BAC’s Comments on Proposed BioMAT Decision

BAC submitted comments in support of the Proposed Decision on BioMAT, which is a 250 megawatt program required by state law (SB 1122, Rubio, 2012).  Most importantly, the Proposed Decision will extend the program end date to the end of 2025.  BAC also supports the Proposed Decision to increase flexibility for developers, set deadlines for utility’s, and to convert to a statewide program in recognition of the statewide benefits that BioMAT projects provide.

See BAC Comments on Proposed BioMAT Decision

CPUC Extends BioMAT Program, Adopts Important Changes

The CPUC voted 5-0 to extend the BioMAT program and make several critical changes to the program.  The CPUC’s Decision extends the program end date to the end of 2025.  This is critical since the utilities have only procured about 20 percent of the 250 megawatts required by the program.  The CPUC Decision also increases delivery flexibility for project developers, establishes deadlines for utilities to review project eligibility and approve contracts, and establishes a non-bypassable charge so that all rate-payers will share the costs of the program.  The CPUC proposed the non-bypassable charge in recognition of the fact that BioMAT projects provide important statewide benefits that all ratepayers should help to pay for, not just the purchasing utility’s customers.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on BioMAT (July 24, 2020), which was adopted by the Commission on August 28.

CPUC Votes to Re-Authorize EPIC Program

The CPUC voted unanimously to re-authorize the Electricity Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program for another ten years.  EPIC has provided about $165 million per year for the past decade to a variety of clean energy research, development, deployment, and market facilitation projects.  Many small-scale bioenergy projects have received EPIC funding to demonstrate new technologies, better quantify greenhouse gas reductions and other environmental benefits, improve pollution controls, and more.  In the past, the California Energy Commission has administered 80% of the EPIC funds and the utilities have administered the other 20%.  The CPUC’s Proposed Decision only re-authorizes the 80% of funding administered by the Energy Commission.  It will consider what the major funding categories should be and whether to re-authorize the utilties’ portion of funding in the next phase of the proceeding.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on EPIC Reauthorization, which was adopted on August 28.

BAC Comments on CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal

BAC filed comments on the CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal to support the proposal and request clarification of several items.  The most important changes recommended in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the end date to the end of 2025
  • Increase operational flexibility and revise burdensome penalty provisions
  • Make the program a statewide program

BAC supported these changes and requested that they apply to existing BioMAT contracts.  BAC also asked for clarification on the proposed greenhouse gas modeling.  And BAC has asked the CPUC to remove the utility service territory restriction as part of the move to make the BioMAT a statewide program.

See BAC Comments on BioMAT Staff Proposal (March 2020).

CPUC Proposes Major BioMAT Changes

In early March, the CPUC released a revised Staff Proposal on the BioMAT program.  The Staff Proposal contains 15 separate and significant proposals to revise the BioMAT program.  Generally, the proposals are quite helpful and some – extending the program end date – are absolutely critical.  The most significant recommendations in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the BioMAT program end date from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2025;
  • Make the program statewide, allowing other purchasers of BioMAT power, instead of limiting it to the three investor-owned utilities;
  • Provide greater operational flexibility and reduce some of the excessive penalty provisions;
  • Extend the time allowed for projects to begin commercial operation;
  • Set deadlines for utilities to execute contracts; and
  • Require projects to provide lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analyses

See CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal (March2020)

CPUC Proposes Changes to BioMAT Program

CPUC staff has proposed some major changes to the BioMT program, including a five-year extension of the program from 2021 to 2026, changes to the pricing mechanism, fuel requirements in the forest BioMAT category, contract changes due to interconnection delays, and more.  Comments on the Staff Proposal are due to the CPUC on November 29.

Read BioMAT Program Review Staff Proposal