Assembly Bill 998, authored by Assembly Member Damon Connolly (D-Santa Rosa), requires the Energy Commission to prepare a report on utility-scale biomass combustion facilities, including the capacity of those facilities to process forest biomass, the role they play in achieving the state’s forest health and wildfire risk reduction objectives, and ways to maximize the environmental benefits of those facilities.  The report must recommend strategies on how to upgrade those facilities, associated costs, and financing opportunities, and how any loss in capacity would be addressed by the future closing of any of those facilities.   

Importantly, AB 998 also requires the Energy Commission to evaluate the feasibility of upgrading shuttered biomass facilities to determine whether they can help the state increase its capacity to manage forest and excess biomass waste.  Evaluating opportunities to upgrade and repower these shuttered facilities could help revitalize many local rural economies, increase baseload renewable energy generation, and significantly increase capacity to deal with wood waste coming from forest health improvement and wildfire risk reduction projects. 

RCRC strongly supports AB 998 and its evaluation of the key role that existing and shuttered biomass facilities play in addressing wildfire risk and improving forest health.  RCRC’s letter in support can be found here

AB 998 has been set for hearing in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on March 27th.  Letters in support are due to the committee by close of business on March 20th to be listed in the committee analysis (late letters will be accepted, but will not be reflected in the analysis).   

For more information or to learn how to get involved, please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Policy Advocate.