Bill Could Allow Energy Companies to Substitute Dirty Biomass for Electricity Savings

Alan Muller, with Neighbors Against the Burner, posted an interesting notice in a Transition discussion group about House File 780 and Senate File 642. This is important information that was new to me so I asked for his permission to edit his post (for length) and repost it here.

An unwise bill would allow dirty biomass heating to substitute for electricity savings.

HF780 and SF642 (with a House amendment) says: “In areas without natural gas service, the energy value of fuel oil or propane displaced through the use of biomass-fueled thermal energy projects may be applied towards the utility’s electricity energy savings goal….”

The House Research bill summary says: “House File 780 allows waste heat used for heating or cooling purposes to apply towards a utility’s energy savings goal… The bill also allows the displacement of fossil fuels by biomass-generated thermal heat to apply towards the savings goal.”

Because it is using wrong numbers (biomass power plants have a thermal efficiency of only about 20 percent), the bill will actually allow utilities to avoid electricity savings greatly out of proportion to the amount of biomass heat generated. Furthermore, biomass power is dirtier than coal in both carbon emissions and health-damaging air pollutants.

This bill may be aimed at promoting a particular project: “(d) For the purposes of this subdivision, “Biomass-fueled thermal energy project” means a project using trees and brush to fuel industrial or commercial boilers to heat buildings located north of Trunk Highway 210 and east of
Trunk highway 59 in a city or on a college or university campus.”

This problem can be fixed by deleting subdivision 3 of HF780/SF642.

Contact the members of the House Energy Policy Committee, (Chair: Rep. Melissa Hortman) and the Senate Energy and Environment Committee (Chair: Sen. John Marty).

The simple message: “Please delete subdivision 3 from HF780/SF642. It would be wrong to allow dirty biomass heating to replace electric energy efficiency”

House committee emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Senate committee emails:,,,,,,,,,,,

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