Proposed changes to the RPS

*Thanks to Green Energy Consumers Alliance for the overview

BIOMASS – DOER is proposing changes to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that call for elimination of 2012 efficiency criteria for biomass power plants that burn significantly expanded categories of “salvage” wood and “residues”. Both the efficiency requirement cuts and the expanded category definitions will result in increased emissions. DOER also proposes to eliminate Massachusetts-specific forest harvesting criteria, which are critical to ensuring actual biosequestration for the qualifying biomass. DOER’s calculations further grossly underestimate lifecycle CO2 emissions from bioenergy by neglecting to also account for fossil fuels burned during harvesting, processing, and transport of biomass. DOER’s biomass proposal incentivizes logging and burning trees for electricity without any justification based in environmental or climate science. This will increase CO2 emissions and decrease carbon sequestration. These changes will allow polluting and inefficient wood-burning biomass power plants in Maine, New Hampshire and elsewhere that are currently ineligible for the MA RPS to receive tens of millions of dollars in renewable energy credits (RECs), and will incentivize new biomass plants to be constructed in MA and beyond.TRASH INCINERATION (RPS Class II) 
- DOER also proposes increasing the RPS Class II waste-to-energy rate. Burning solid waste is highly polluting and already produces 750,000 tons of incinerator ash containing heavy metals, furans, and dioxin each year, which must be disposed of in landfills. For those forced to live in close proximity to these facilities, the effects are even more dire. Studies show residents near incinerators suffer increased rates of disease and shorter life expectancy.HYDROELECTRIC GENERATORS – 
DOER proposes to remove a requirement for recertification from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (“LIHI”). Currently, an RPS-eligible hydropower facility must meet rigorous standards for river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural resource protection, and recreation. Rivers are dynamic ecological systems, and the recertification process as currently required ensures that negative environmental impacts continue to be minimized in a manner consistent with the Green Communities Act (“GCA”). Watering down and removing the requirement for recertification from LIHI would undermine a project operator’s motivation to improve their systems and minimize their environmental impact over time. A qualified project would effectively receive a lifetime qualification regardless of any environmental changes or technological advances that would prompt updated conditions to protect river systems.CHANGES TO THE SREC-1 PROGRAM – 
The proposed changes, by limiting overall SREC eligibility to 10 years, would reduce the amount of time that solar projects are eligible to generate SRECs by at least one quarter and up to 4 years.IMPORTED ENERGY
 – DOER has proposed to remove the requirement that energy generated outside of New England be imported under a contract and delivered into New England in order to be eligible to create a Renewable Energy Certificate (“REC”) used to demonstrate compliance with the MA RPS. The proposed change goes against rules that have been in effect for over 15 years and are set in Massachusetts RPS statute. This change threatens the integrity of the REC market and opens the door for sham energy trades to generate RECs that could destabilize the market, causing a lack of trust and making it harder for renewable energy projects to grow within the region.

Comment period on proposed changes

Written comments on the RPS Class I and RPS Class II Regulations will be accepted until 5 PM on July 26, 2019. Please submit written comments on the RPS Class I and RPS Class II regulations to John Wassam electronically to or via mail to the Department of Energy Resources, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1020, Boston, MA 02114.Copies of the proposed regulations may be obtained from the DOER website or by contacting DOER at


Proposed biomass plant in Springfield
» FAQ Sheet on PRE Plant and DOER Changes to Biomass / RPS Regulations

» Info about E. Springfield Biomass Plant


» Commonwealth Accelerated Renewable Thermal Strategy
Final Report
Prepared for: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
By Navigant Consulting, Inc.
January 2014


» Environmental groups accuse state of ‘deeply flawed’ review of biomass changes; call for more input
By Peter Goonan, Springfield Republican
August 6, 2019

» Enviro Advocates Call Out MA Gov. Baker For Promoting Dirty Fuels As Renewable Energy
Partnership for Policy Integrity
August 2, 2019

» Scientists say Dartmouth College’s biomass plan is a bad idea
By TIM CAMERATO, Valley News
July 25, 2019

» How to fight climate change? Save existing forests
Guest column by William R. Moomaw, Bob Leverett, Robert A. Jonas and Monica Jakuc Leverett, Daily Hampshire Gazette
July 24, 2019

» As I See It: Burning wood no way to fight climate change
By Nisha Swinton and Regina LaRocque , Opinion: Worcester Telegram   
July 19, 2019

» Columnist Lindsay Sabadosa: Racism is not just about words
Daily Hampshire Gazzette
July 16, 2019

» Editorial: The right to live without environmental pollution
By Greenfield Recorder

» New Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership reaches starting line
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
June 19, 2019

» The Local Weather Report: Not in Any Child’s Backyard
By Kimberly French, South Coast Today
June 9, 2019

» ‘Biomass Isn’t Clean Energy’: Springfield activists blast state plan at hearing
By Chris Goudreau, The Valley Advocate
June 6, 2019

» Renewable Energy Rules Changes Protested At Springfield Hearing
By Paul Tuthill, WAMC
June 6, 2019

» Springfield organizers, residents voice opposition to biomass burning
By Sydney Snow, Hayley Crombleholme,, Channel 22 News
June 5, 2019

» ‘Stupid and Irresponsible’: Activists speak out against burning biomass in Springfield
By Chris Goudreau, Valley Advocate
June 4, 2019

» Springfield Groups Slam ENE for Peddling Polluting Palmer Power to Eastern Mass Munis
May 29, 2019

» Read the joint letter from Arise for Social Justice, Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and PFPI

» State postpones Springfield hearing on changes in renewable energy regulations
By Peter Goonan, MassLive
May 28, 2019

» Activists, opponents of biomass project will bring fight to Springfield hearing on renewable energy law changes
By Peter Goonan, MassLive
May 25, 2019

» Activists, opponents of biomass project will bring fight to Springfield hearing on renewable energy law changes
By Peter Goonan, MassLive
May 25, 2019

» Get ready for another biomass battle
Baker administration rules betray forests, climate, science
By Mary S. Booth, CommonWealth Magazine
May 14, 2019

» Save coal plant and prevent forest fires? APS assesses biomass conversion at Arizona unit
By Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive
April 4, 2019

» Environmental groups oppose state’s biomass incentives
By GRETA JOCHEM, Daily Hampshire Gazette
March 21, 2019

» Groups ask Baker to back off wood-burning initiatives
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
March 20, 2019

» Blame wood-burning stoves for winter air pollution and health threats
By Michael D. Mehta, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Thompson Rivers University, The Conversation
March 7, 2019
Michael D. Mehta is affiliated with the Gabriola Island Clean Air Society and Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution.

» Europe’s renewable energy policy is built on burning American trees
Biomass energy is inadvertently making the climate crisis worse.
By Saul Elbein,
March 4, 2019

» State kickstarts Western Massachusetts wood chip industry with renewable thermal energy grants
By Mary C. Serreze, Mass Live
February 11, 2019

» Baker-Polito Administration Announces $2.8 Million in Matching Funding for Renewable Heating Infrastructure
Projects to Increase Availability of Renewable Heating Fuels
Press Release
February 11, 2019

» City Council Questions Status Of Permits For Power Plant Project
By Paul Tuthill, WAMC radio
October 19, 2018

» Springfield City Council seeks answers, options after plans announced for biomass plant construction
By Peter Goonan, MassLive
October 4, 2018

» Scientists say halting deforestation ‘just as urgent’ as reducing emissions
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian
October 4, 2018

» Plant to power Ashfield lumber biz draws ire
By Richie Davis, Daily Hampshire Gazette
June 24, 2018

» BURNED: Are Trees the New Coal?
BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel
Documentary By Marlboro Productions

» Massachusetts Issues Guidelines For Woody Biomass To Qualify For Alternative Energy Incentives
By Paul Tuthill, WAMC radio
December 27, 2017

» Push to Burn Wood for Fuel Threatens Climate Goals, Scientists Warn
Scientists say a new EU renewable energy policy on biomass is ‘misleading’ and will raise emissions. U.S. forests are being turned into wood pellets to feed demand.
By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News
June 24, 2018

» New Study: Biomass Energy Has Big Climate Impact Even Under Best Case Scenario
Partnership For Public Integrity (PFPI)
February 21, 2018

» The 100 Most Polluting Biomass Energy Facilities in Pennsylvania – Map, Database, and Report
Partnership For Public Integrity (PFPI)
October 21, 2014

» Federal Trade Commission Bioenergy Report
Partnership For Public Integrity (PFPI)
July 28, 2014

» Trees, Trash, and Toxics: How Biomass Energy Has Become the New Coal
Partnership For Public Integrity (PFPI)
April 2, 2014

» Securities and Exchange Comm. Bioenergy Report
Partnership For Public Integrity (PFPI)
November 20, 2013

» Who is Palmer Renewable Energy?
By Maureen Turner, Valley Advocate
Dec 31, 2009