Senator Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland, VA) recently introduced a bill that would lift a state-imposed cap on the amount of wood chips and other lumber waste that power companies can burn for fuel and count towards a “renewable portfolio standard.”
Currently, Virginia Utilities can burn green wood chips, sawdust, and other wood waste to help create energy, but under the cap, they only get renewable energy credits for burning up to 1.5 million tons.
Stuart said that while utilities can use as much wood as they want, the cap on renewable energy credits removes the incentive for utilities to use more wood products in place of cheaper energy sources such as coal.
“The only reason they’re going to use that commodity is, they can get credit,” Stuart said.
He said using wood byproducts is better for the environment, but that power companies are unlikely to invest in more wood-burning facilities with the cap in place.
While his bill to remove the cap failed in the legislative session earlier this year, lawmakers agreed to convene a subcommittee to look at the issue.
“This bill is important for alternative energy and I think most of us realize the importance of looking for alternative means and getting away from fossil fuels,” Stuart told the subcommittee.