The Honorable Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Re: EPA Action to Confirm an Electrical Pathway Under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program
Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler:
I am writing this letter as an owner of a 20MW biomass cogeneration power station located in the Sierra Nevada region of rural northern California. We are surrounded by three of the largest national forests in the western US (the Lassen, the Plumas and the Tahoe). Our plant is the only facility in the region, other than out-of-state landfills, that is able receive high fire-risk biomass.
Loyalton Cogen delivers renewable electricity to more than 20,000 homes in the Sierra Nevada and employs more than 50 highly paid, skilled workers to operate the plant and transport biomass materials. Our facility is located at 5,000 feet in the high Sierras of northern California. Our county has only 4,500 residents, no traffic lights and is wholly dependent on logging and ranching. It is fair to say that our region has been largely left behind with regards to federal policies that favor other renewable technologies.
Eleven years ago, Congress agreed that that renewably generated electricity should be a pathway under the Renewable Fuel Standard program. Four years ago, EPA decided to approve an electricity pathway for this program. To date, the EPA has yet to act on this approval by processing formal applications from renewable electricity producers across the nation.
The EPA now faces a four-year backlog of applications from power producers seeking registration as RIN producers for biogas-based electricity. More requests are expected following positive findings by the Agency that power produced using certain solid forms of biomass now qualifies under the RFS.
We have recently been informed that, until the Agency resolves policy issues regarding how the RFS â€œelectric pathwayâ€ program will function, these applications will not be acted upon. This has completely blocked participation in the RFS electric pathway for both existing and future applicants.
Our request of your office is to direct the EPA to expedite currently outstanding registration requests and that permit the Agency to finalize a formal decision with regards to a regulatory structure for the electric RIN pathway.
EPA's regulatory inaction regarding eRINs appears to have the de facto effect of picking â€œwinners and losers.â€ This was not Congress' intent, nor the EPA separate one class of renewable electric generators from others by inaction.
Within the next five years, without the timely inclusion of eRINs, hundreds of biomass, bio-gas and other forms of reliable, community based renewable power generators will be forced to shut down. These small facilities, located in rural communities and provide critically important jobs, will be lost in the push to build ever-larger, solar electric and wind generation facilities.
We respectfully request your timely attention to this matter which will permit our community and others to participate in the very benefits that Congress established eleven years ago.