California puts priority on biofuels for power generation using fire-prone trees

The members of the California Public Utilities Commission are due at their Feb. 25 meeting to look at a resolution that would require Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to hold a solicitation for power generating facilities that use biofuel from high hazard zones.

This solicitation process for each utility would commence no later than July 1, 2016, using the Renewable Auction Mechanism procurement mechanism and standard contract. The commission would allow PG&E and SDG&E to enter into bilateral contracts with existing forest bioenergy facilities receiving forest feedstock from high hazard zones during their 2015 Renewables Portfolio Standard solicitation cycle.

This action is due to an effort by Gov. Jerry Brown to deal with California forest areas left prone to wildfires by drought and infestation by the bark beetle.  

These utilities would procure at least 30 MW (12 MW by PG&E, 12 MW by SCE, and 6 MW by SDG&E) from the RAM auction. They may procure more capacity than these required minimums. They would need to require that at least 80% of the fuel source, measured on an annual basis, should come from high hazard zones.

The utilities can propose contract language which permits fuel switching from high hazard zone fuel to other RPS-eligible fuels once the emergency is declared over or once there is not sufficient fuel from high hazard zones to meet at least 80% of the facility’s needs annually. The utilities would need to verify that the contracting facilities are using fuel from high hazard zones and provide information about their verification processes and findings to the Director of the Energy Division on request.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.