Burning wood and renewable energy standards

The Massachusetts renewable portfolio standard (RPS) governs how much renewable energy utilities need to include in their energy mix. It’s pretty low right now, at 14%, and rising very slowly. The low ambition in the RPS standards is getting in the way of achieving the state’s own legal requirement to reduce emissions by 80% through 2050. To make matters worse, the administration is considering allowing more “biomass” to be considered a renewable energy source. Translation: burning wood would be considered clean energy. Before you romanticize an evening in front of your fireplace roasting chestnuts, I should point out that we are talking grid-scale power here, burning forests to power our electrical grids. Seems like a step back, doesn’t it? It is — indeed, the climate impact of burning wood is worse than burning coal. Today, I wrote a letter to the state’s Department of Energy Resources advocating against allowing more biomass to be considered renewable.

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