A bill that would make it more attainable for biomass companies to contract with power companies in the state will likely be signed into law.
Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Senator Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, has passed both the state Senate and House, and was sent to Governor Steve Beshear on Monday to be signed.
Andrew Mclnykovych, director of communications for the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC), said the bill would “allow a utility company to recover the cost of purchasing power from a biomass-fueled electric producer if, and only if, the PSC determines that the agreement between the producer and the utility company is fair, just, and reasonable.”
This bill would essentially make biomass fuel a more viable option for electric producers in the state by lowering the initial start-up cost.
In a letter to the editor in this week’s edition of the Herald, Gary Crawford with the ecoPower Generation company said ecoPower is excited about the opportunities this bill is opening up for the region.
“With regulatory hurdles more clearly addressed, ecoPower believes it can move forward with the sale of the power under a long-term contract,” Crawford wrote. “Over 200 construction jobs will be created, and when in operation the plant will sustain over 500 jobs in the area.”
Smith said a biomass plant in the state could generate enough power to power 40,000 houses, or most of the homes in Perry County. He said the passing of the bill gives the power industry the potential to create more than 500 direct and indirect jobs for the area, and within the first two decades after its implementation has a projected economic impact of $300 million.
“With the devastating loss of jobs in our region, and the forcible downturn in the coal market by an overreaching federal administration, it is vital that we get our people back to work, which is ultimately their [the Senate’s] number one goal,” Smith said.