From:                              Michigan Biomass <> on behalf of Michigan Biomass <>

Sent:                               Wednesday, June 01, 2016 7:43 AM

To:                                   Gary

Subject:                          The Power of Wood Spring 2016


hot off the press


Michigan energy bills see action

The Michigan senate resumed work on comprehensive energy legislation late in April, introducing a substitute and holding multiple days of hearings.

The bill package includes SB 437, which makes changes to the state's customer choice program that allows a limited number of electricity customers to buy power from non-utility suppliers. SB 438 deals with renewable portfolio standards and net metering — a program that provides incentives for the installation of small distributed energy systems, such as rooftop solar.

The package awaits action on the senate floor.

MPSC takes up PURPA

The Michigan Public Service Commission has opened a docket on how regulated utilities would purchase power from small qualified power facilities.

The report follows a months-long technical workgroup process that looked at components of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), a federal law that provides structures for small qualified to sell power to utilities and gain access to markets that they otherwise couldn't.

The report makes recommendations on the rates, terms and processes for establishing PURPA contracts.


Feds to look at PURPA, too

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will conduct a technical review of PURPA on June 29. The gist? Is PURPA, which was adopted nearly 40 years ago, still relevant in today's energy environment?

The review was taken up at the request of key U.S. House and Senate committee chairs. The notion is that renewable portfolio standards, competitive bidding and integrated resource planning process provide small power generators access to the electricity market that they didn't't have before, perhaps making key parts PURPA irrelevant.

For nearly 40 years, PURPA has been used to provide opportunities for small power generators, especially for existing renewable energy producers who have been operating under PURPA contracts before states adopted renewable portfolio standards and similar policies designed to promote independent power generation.


Verso bankruptcy continues

Bankruptcy proceedings for Verso, Michigan's largest paper producer, continue to move through the court system. In May the company filed an amended repayment plan, hoping to get court approval by June 23, according to information from the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.

Verso has reportedly asked for more time to review and/or object to 1700 priority claims filed by vendors. The timber industry is confident these claims will be paid in full.


FERC says UP must pay for system support

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has determined that Upper Peninsula electricity ratepayers must pay for the cost to keep a trio of power plants forced to run to keep the power flowing there.

In its ruling, FERC upheld the decision by the Mid-Continent Independent Operating System (MISO) that ordered power plants in White Pine, Escanaba and Marquette to keep running as a system support resource (SSR) despite the costs.

The Michigan Public Service Commission, The City of Mackinac Island, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Upper Peninsula Power Co., the City of Escanaba and Cloverland Electric Cooperative all opposed the decision, which alters how MISO allocates the estimated $100 million in costs to utilities, which recover those costs from ratepayers.


The Power of Wood is published quarterly by Michigan Biomass, a coalition that advocates for, and is supported by, the state's wood-fired power plants. Send questions, comments and inquiries to

Biomass big contributor to state renewables

Biomass made up 23% of the renewable energy credits (RECs) used by utilities to comply with Michigan's renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in 2014.

That's roughly the same as had been produced over the previous two years, however, for the first time, wind RECs exceeded biomass RECs by a small margin.

Because wind is intermittent, it takes more than twice as many wind turbines to produce the same amount of power produced by baseload biomass generators.

Biomass power is "baseload" generation, which helps keep the power grid reliable and stable, diversifies the state's energy portfolio, and puts local resources and people to work.




LBW&L drafts IRP

The Lansing Board of Water and Light, that city's municipal utility, has drafted an integrated resource plan (IRP) that maps out how it will meet customer demand, environmental compliance and reliability requirements for the next 20 years.

The utility expects to close about 80% of its current generation by 2030, largely coal plants.

The IRP process is intended to vet utility generation plans against all resources, including energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and demand management.

The plan is expected to result in a 40% clean energy portfolio by 2030.

EPA still working on biogenic carbon, makes determinations on fuels

While the U.S. EPA has made final determinations on what constitutes a "legitimate fuel" for biomass energy, its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) continues to kick around how to account carbon emission from wood and other sources of biogenic greenhouse gases.

The SAB was expected to finalize their findings and reports at an April 1 meeting — and came close to doing that. At the last minute the body tossed the issue of forest-based biomass sources to a technical committee.

While there's consensus on the panel regarding carbon emission from organic "waste and byproducts" such as farm manure and food processing leftovers, how forest-based biomass feedstocks such as commercial thinning and logging residue should be accounted are still sticking points.

Under the proposed EPA rules, forest-sourced biomass is considered "carbon neutral" if the carbon emissions from the power plant is no more than the carbon emissions that would have occurred from that wood material had it not been converted to energy.

NHSM: After more than five years of court proceedings and comment periods, EPA has finalized its Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials rules, designed to distinguish between ordinary solid wastes and byproducts used for boiler fuel.

While the agency had determined several years ago that forest-based wood feedstocks, and fuels processed from wood like crates and pallets, and scrap tires were legitimate fuels under its rules, wood-based fuels processed from sources like railroad ties, construction and demolition wood, and board and paper products weren't approved until February.

The final rules conclude EPA action that was initiated in 2011 when federal courts ruled the agency has responsibility for regulating non-hazardous wastes in scope similar to managing hazardous wastes.

Determining that these materials are "legitimate fuels" and not "solid waste" is crucial to how power plant boilers are permitted.

Coal plant closures commence

More of Michigan's coal-fired generation started shutting down in April, with two units at Consumers Energy's B.C. Cobb plant in Muskegon on April 15. More will follow, including three units at the J.R. Whiting plant in Luna Pier, and two units at the Karn-Weadock facility in Bay City where four units will remain operational.

Together these closures total 950 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity.

Detroit Edison's Harbor Beach facility, 121 MW, shut down in 2013.

Other units slated for shutdown include:
• 2 units at Trenton Channel, Detroit Edison, 240 MW, in 2016
• Endicott Power Plant, Michigan South Central Power Agency in Litchfield, 55 MW, in 2016
• The Holland Board of Public Works, 63 MW, in 2017
• The Lansing Board of Water and Light's Eckert Plant, 335 MW, in 2018
• Presque Isle Power Plant, Marquette, Wisconsin Electric, 450 MW, in 2020

The closures are part of movement by utilities across the country to replace aging coal plants with cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy systems.

Copyright © 2016 Michigan Biomass, All rights reserved.
Your are receiving this newsletter as a courtesy of Michigan Biomass.

Our mailing address is:

Michigan Biomass

PO Box 11

Ithaca, MI 48847

Add us to your address book

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp