Xcel looks at biomass to meet RES

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Xcel Energy has filed for approval with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) a demonstration project that would solicit electricity production from gasification of forest biomass.

Credit: Wing-Chi Poon/Wikimedia Commons.

If approved, Xcel Energy would seek bids for a power purchase agreement (PPA) of up to 2 MW of generation, under special provisions of the state's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) statute. The company believes that in addition to helping meet the RES, biomass would spur the development of new generating technologies and contribute to forest health in the state where thousands of acres have been destroyed by the Rocky Mountain pine beetle.

"Since 2007, Xcel Energy has been investigating small, forest biomass project opportunities. Because the overall health of Colorado forests has degraded due to drought and infestation, there has been increasing interest among various stakeholders to pursue this type of demonstration project," said David Eves, president and CEO of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. "Xcel Energy would gain valuable experience concerning the potential use of biomass for future electricity generation, and we would be able to determine whether this type of technology is a reasonable and promising way to address the health of our Colorado forests."

The project is of special interest to Xcel because some of these deteriorating forests are close to the Xcel's service territory and could have an impact on company infrastructure and service reliability.

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