Maine regulators approve $13m taxpayer subsidy to support biomass-based energy plants

Officials in the US state of Maine have approved a $13 million (€12m) taxpayer subsidy to reopen or keep open several biomass electricity generation plants in the state.

According to Maine Public.com, earlier this year, lawmakers approved a plan to use surplus state revenues to prop up the biomass industry, and the forest-products workers who depend on it, by supplementing the prices the plants get when selling electricity on the regional grid. Now the state Public Utilities Commission has chosen the winning bidders.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to accept bids from Stored Solar, a subsidiary of the French energy firm Capergy that bought the Covanta plants, and ReEnergy Holdings.

According to BDN Maine, Stored Solar on 17 November, 2016, notified federal regulators that it closed the purchase of the former Covanta plants on 18 October, in an application seeking to restart operations and sell into the regional wholesale market as early as this month. Regulators have not issued a decision on that request.

Covanta shut down the plants, which employed about 44 people, in March and April.

The industry has hit challenging times in recent years as it has faced competition from low oil prices and the loss of some markets in southern New England, as states tightened renewable energy requirements, according to BDN Maine.

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