In a draft of the state’s 10-year energy action plan, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber and his government have instituted a strong focus on biomass energy.
Given the geography and biodiversity of the state, the report says “Oregon has a unique ability to lead in developing the next generation of biomass and cogeneration facilities, as forests cover nearly half of Oregon’s 63 million acres.”
Nearly 60 per cent of those 63 million acres are lands managed by the federal government, which was a major impetus for deriving interest in the sector.
“In order to ultimately develop a robust restoration economy for rural Oregon and increase energy production from biomass, the state will focus incentives on building the energy production market,” the report said.
According to the action plan, a focus on biomass energy has been in place since 2011 when the co-chairs of Kitzhaber’s Forest Health & Biomass Energy Transition Team developed recommendations for the governor. Those recommendations included “working with the state Environmental Protection Agency to avoid discrimination against biomass heat and power generation; preference for biomass boilers in retrofit programs; ensuring that energy incentives maintained support of community-scale biomass projects; excluding woody biomass from regulation of solid waste; and reauthorizing the biomass collector tax credit.”
The plan also calls for building retrofits and efficiency improvements on up to four million square feet of state-owned buildings and office space to improve their energy performance and help drive private sector investment, and proposes streamlined permitting for renewable energy facilities to provide more certainty for companies considering investments in Oregon, reported Biomass Magazine.
Long-term action items are also listed in Kitzhaber’s report including adding resources to work with stakeholders and the federal government to ensure all plans for the sector are maximized.