Maine biomass commission to meet

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A commission charged by the Maine legislature to study the state's biomass energy industry will hold its first meeting next month.  The study committee's work will result in a report to the legislature, and could include recommended changes to state law.

The Maine State House.

At the end of its 2016 session, the Maine legislature enacted a resolve establishing the Commission to Study the Economic, Environmental and Energy Benefits of the Maine Biomass Industry.  The resolve directed the commission to:
1. Review and evaluate the economic, environmental and energy benefits of Maine's biomass resources, as well as public policy and economic proposals to create and maintain a sustainable future for the Maine biomass industry;
2. Consider the interconnection of economic markets for biomass and forest products and the energy policy of the State;
3. Consider whether the environmental, economic and energy benefits of biomass support updating the State's energy policy to strengthen and increase the role that biomass and the forest products industry play throughout the State;
4. Consider the costs of implementing any recommendations and the effect of leaving current policies in place; and
5. Examine any other issues to further the purposes of the study. 
The Maine biomass commission has now been formed, and has scheduled its first meeting for August 2, 2016.  As prescribed by the resolve, its membership includes a mix of legislators and others interested in the state's biomass energy policy.

The resolve directed the biomass study commission to submit a report and any suggested implementing legislation for committee consideration by December 6, 2016.

Biomass was a hot topic in the past legislative session.  On a separate track, this spring the Maine legislature enacted a law establishing a long-term contracting program for biomass-fueled power plants.  The Maine Public Utilities Commission has issued a request for proposals under that program, with contract proposals due on or before July 29, 2016.

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