Massachusetts proposes new rules that mean none of several planned wood-fueled biomass power plants would qualify for state renewable energy credits, which are vital to making projects economically feasible

BOSTON , May 3, 2011 () – The Patrick Administration has proposed tough new rules aimed at discouraging large-scale wood-burning power plants in Massachusetts.

Under the proposals announced Tuesday, plants must burn at 40 percent overall efficiency to earn half a renewable energy credit from the state and 60 percent efficiency for a full credit. The credits are vital to making the plants economically feasible.

Officials say none of several biomass plants proposed for western Massachusetts would qualify for the credits.

A state-commissioned study indicated biomass produces more carbon emissions than other renewable sources. The state said it's trying to direct the industry toward building combined heat and power units -- unusually smaller facilities used at places such as industrial parks.

Wood power advocates said the efficiency standards were arbitrary and unscientific when they were released last year in draft regulations.

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