On Tuesday, the Rural County Representatives of California, the Bioenergy Association of California, and California Association of Sanitation Agencies submitted a joint petition to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requesting modifications to the existing BioMAT program, under which the state’s three large Investor Owned Utilities (IOUS) must procure a total of 250 MW of energy from small bioenergy projects. 

Under the program, if generators offer electricity under specified price points, the three IOUs must procure: 

  • 110 MW of power from biogas from wastewater treatment, municipal organic waste diversion, food process, and co-digestion
  • 90 MW from dairy and other agricultural bioenergy 
  • 50MW from bioenergy using biproducts of sustainable forest management 

 The Joint Petition seeks to: 

  • Extend the BioMAT program from 2025 to 2030
  • Allow smaller IOUs to participate in the BioMAT program, if they so choose
  • Modify the apportionment of the buckets among the IOUs  

The petition seeks to address several looming issues.  

First, the petition seeks to extend the program’s sunset date.  While the statutes creating the program did not include a sunset date, the CPUC created one, which it extended to 2025 in mid-2020.  With the phase-out of agricultural burning in the Central Valley and the opportunity for local governments to use small bioenergy facilities to comply with new CalRecycle organic waste procurement requirements, the 2025 sunset is impractical and should be extended to at least 2030. 

Second, under previous CPUC decisions, the state’s smaller IOUs cannot participate in the BioMAT program.  The petition seeks to allow those smaller IOUs, like Bear Valley Electric Service, Liberty Utilities, and PacifiCorp to participate if they so choose. 

Finally, the petition seeks to modify the allocation of the three buckets among IOUs so that PG&E can procure more ag-based bioenergy.  PG&E covers a large portion of the San Joaquin Valley, which must phase out the open burning of agricultural waste.  Small bioenergy facilities could play a role in managing those materials, but PG&E is quickly approaching its cap for dairy/agricultural bioenergy.  The petition seeks to give PG&E additional capacity for that bucket without increasing overall statewide obligations or costs. 

Please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate, with any questions or if you are interested in supporting this petition.