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Lawmakers close to expanding biomass in Rhode Island

May 17, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers are one step closer to granting biomass power the same incentives offered to wind and solar power.

The Providence Journal reports the House Committee on Corporations passed a bill to include biomass, which burns wood waste to generate electricity, in the state’s 2011 net metering law. The law allows companies to offset their electric bills by selling renewable energy to the power grid.

The Senate passed a version of the bill earlier this month. The bill would bring the law into line with the Renewable Energy Standard set by the state in 2004, which included biomass as a renewable energy source.

The bill comes as Green Development is proposing a biomass plant in Johnston, Rhode Island. Spokesman Bill Fischer says the plant wouldn’t make economic sense unless the bill is enacted. No biomass plants have been developed yet in Rhode Island.

Some environmentalists oppose the plant and say burning wood waste produces carbon emissions.

Johnathan Berard, Rhode Island director of Clean Water Action, said the bill amounts to a quid-pro-quo. Mark DePasquale, founder of Green Development, has made more than $30,000 in campaign contributions to Democratic legislative leaders, including House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Gov. Gina Raimondo.

House Spokesman Larry Berman called the quid-pro-quo allegation “ridiculous.”

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Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

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