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The California Solid-Fuel Biomass
How California is Helping,
What Are the California Biomass Plants?
Burn wood wastes…
To boil water…
And make steam…
To turn the steam turbine…
That turns the generator…
That makes electricity…
That is sold wholesale…
To the utilities.
Wheelabrator’s Shasta Energy Co.,
Anderson, CA 53 MW
Over 40% Smaller than the Peak
in the Mid-90s.
Our State has lost 2 plants per year
for the last 5 years.
117 MW of generating capacity closed.
California’s Biomass Power Industry
Is in Decline.
Why is This Happening?
• It’s the Fuel, Stupid!
Change in the Fuel Mix
1992 – 2006 (% of BDT)
Forest-derived 62% 43%
Urban 18% 35%
Ag 20% 22%
Biomass Generation is Expensive
• On-site Handling
• Contrast to the cost of the fuel for a wind
generator, or a hydro or geothermal plant.
Value of the Non-Electric
Calculate the costs of the alternate fates of the materials
NREL says > 10 cents/kWh
Plants are paid:
5.37 – 6.45 cents for the electricity, or
Short-Run Avoided Cost (SRAC)
California has tried to help…
1. What has not worked.
2. What has worked, sort of.
3. What is now in play.
1a. Ag Fuel Grants
$10/ton of ag fuels used;
Effective while it lasted
Legislature pulled the plug
after a year.
The Biomass Power Industry
A huge waste-management industry…
That makes a little electricity on the side.
Is not paid for the non-electric benefits.
1b. Trash Bill Surcharge
75 cents a month
on everybody's trash bill;
Distribute as a usage-based
1c. California has passed a
Renewable Portfolio Standard.
It has not worked.
20% Renewable kWh by 2010;
Fulfilled by kilowatt hours alone;
Not differentiated by technology;
Effectively, Low Price Wins.
Utilities have resisted.
Wind is winning most of the bids.
No new biomass plants.
Subsidizes biomass generation a bit
during Off-Peak hours;
Funding from Ratepayers “Public Good
Keeps most plants running and consuming
waste. (This is good.)
BUT…The subsidy is very limited.
2a.The California Energy
3a. New State Policy, April 2006
(After 10 years of trying.)
Biomass-to-Electricity is to
constitute 20% of RPS;
20% of 20% = 4%
Double the existing industry?
The California PUC
Is deciding the gas-based price that renewable
generators should be paid by the utilities.
A decision may be released this spring.
How this interacts with State Policy and the RPS
Is up in the air.
The CPUC, CARB, CEC,
CIWMB, CalEPA, CDF&FP,
Resources Agency, Food & Ag,
Dept. of Gen’l Svcs, SWRCB
are trying to figure out how to
implement the 20% Policy.
is now deciding on
the ‘off-peak’ subsidy.
Will it continue?
If so, at what level?
The California biomass industry future
1. Implementation of the 20% Policy;
2. The future determination of SRAC;
3. Fuel availability from Federal lands;
4. Continuation of the “Off-Peak” subsidy