Biomass Bill Passes Assembly
June 4, 2015
Biomass Bill (AB 590, Salas / Dahle) Protects Renewable Energy and Air Quality
SACRAMENTO – AB 590 will incentivize biomass utilization of agriculture waste and forest waste. The legislation will save jobs, divert biomass from landfills, and create renewable energy.
“Biomass power generation is a clean and efficient way to produce renewable energy and help improve our air. In fact, the Delano biomass facility has helped reduce 96 percent of the pollutants released from open-field burning. This facility alone converts 300,000 tons of agricultural waste per year into clean, renewable energy.” said Assemblymember Salas. “AB 590 provides the necessary structure and resources to protect and incentivize biomass power in California.”
Farms in Kern and Tulare Counties generate over 580,000 tons of woody waste annually, mostly from almond, peach, and nectarine orchards. In the past, most of this material has been burned openly in the fields. Open burning of wood residues produces up to 100 times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than biomass power plants, which convert wood into renewable energy. The Delano biomass facility reduces 96 percent of the pollutants released in open-field burning; leading local air quality management officials to call Covanta Delano “a stationary air pollution control device.”
In addition to air quality benefits, the biomass plants produce a steady flow of reliable, renewable, baseload electric power regardless of natural external conditions, like wind, sun and water flow. The plants also help ensure that the state meets its current renewable energy portfolio standard of 33 percent by the 2020 statutory deadline.
“In the past few years we have seen the catastrophic results of forests that are too loaded with forest fuels. The people of my district have lived in a cloud of smoke, as thousands of acres have burned destroying lives, property, critical animal habitat, ruining our watersheds and wasting valuable resources,” said Assemblyman Dahle. “I introduced AB 590 to address this crisis. The bill is now on to the Senate with bipartisan support from the Assembly, where I hope to see it receive the same support.”
Currently, California biomass plants use more than eight million tons of wood waste as fuel. About 3.7 million tons represent urban wood waste kept out of landfills, helping local governments meet disposal mandates.
Biomass plants across the state employ approximately 700 people directly, as well as 1,000 to 1,500 other workers in dedicated indirect jobs. Many are in economically hard-pressed rural communities where the plants are one of the largest private employers.
Unfortunately, the 25 plants that convert biomass waste into energy are at serious risk of closure without decisive action by the State Legislature and the Governor. In the past year, five plants closed. AB 590 would allocate part of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) revenue to defer the costs of operating these plants.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch
Assemblymember Dahle represents Alturas, Anderson, Butte County (Portions), Colfax, Dunsmuir, Grass Valley, Lassen County, Modoc County, Montague, Mount Shasta, Nevada City, Nevada County, Placer County (Portions), Plumas County, Portola, Redding, Shasta County, Shasta Lake, Sierra County, Siskiyou County, Truckee, Weed, Yreka
(Photo: Covanta Biomass Plant, Delano, CA)
Contact: Jillian Rice. (661) 335-0302