Maine PUC agrees to suspend requirements for idle Bucksport biomass plant

The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Nov. 30 agreed to suspend certain renewable energy reporting requirements while the biomass-fired Bucksport power plant is idled.

In March 2011, the commission was petitioned to certify the Bucksport Biomass Plant as a Class I New Renewable Resource by its then owner, Verso Bucksport LLC. The particular provisions of the statute and rule applicable to the Bucksport Biomass Plant allow certification for facilities that utilize a renewable resource (including biomass), are under 100 MW, and were refurbished after Sept. 1, 2005. According to the petition, the Bucksport Biomass Plant was a refurbished biomass plant that utilized both eligible and ineligible fuels and energy generated from the eligible portion of the fuel fell below the 100 MW capacity limit. Further, electricity produced by the Bucksport Biomass Plant was both consumed behind-the-meter and exported to the grid.

The Commission granted the petition in November 2011. Among other requirements, the order prescribed an annual reporting obligation to account for the renewable energy generated by the Bucksport Biomass Plant and consumed behind-the-meter.

On Oct. 7, 2016, Bucksport Mill LCC and Bucksport Generation LLC filed a motion to modify these particular provisions. According to the motion, the Bucksport Biomass Plant has not operated since April 2015 due to poor economic conditions, although Bucksport Mill intends to resume operations when the market becomes more favorable. The companies requested that the commission suspend the independent auditing and reporting obligations while the plant it shut. They contended that these obligations are unduly burdensome and functionally useless.

The commission in the Nov. 30 order suspended these requirements until the Bucksport Biomass Plant resumes operations, at which time the obligations will resume pursuant to the schedule that would have existed had the provisions of these orders never been suspended.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 7 approved an Aug. 5 application from Bucksport Mill LLC for commission authorization for the disposition of jurisdictional facilities to its affiliate, Bucksport Generation LLC. Bucksport Mill is owned by AIM Development (USA) LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Iron & Metal Company Inc. Bucksport Mill owns three generating units totaling 118 MW, a 28% interest in a 185-MW cogeneration facility located in Bucksport, Maine, and equipment necessary to interconnect the generation units to the transmission system operated by ISO New England.

Bucksport Generation is also owned by AIM Development. Bucksport Generation already has a 72% interest in the cogeneration facility and its interconnection equipment.

Upon completion of this approved transaction, Bucksport Generation acquires the Bucksport Mill assets and any related books and records. Under a Contribution Agreement that was executed on June 1, 2016, the Bucksport Mill assets will be sold to Bucksport Generation in exchange for a 10% interest in Bucksport Generation.

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.