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(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today successfully strengthened energy legislation with an amendment that would boost New Hampshire's biomass industry, increase biomass efficiency and help create jobs. Shaheen's amendment unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and will be part of the 2009 Energy Bill, scheduled to come before the full Senate later this year.

"New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the nation, and this legislation would give a boost to our existing biomass companies and help renewable energy entrepreneurs build new plants," said Shaheen. "New Hampshire's timber resources are an incredible resource, and by ensuring that we use them as efficiently as possible, we will accelerate our movement toward energy independence, cut down on waste, and create good jobs making biomass plants more efficient. This legislation does exactly that."

Congressional Research Service estimates that current biomass plants operate at only 21% efficiency, meaning that fully 79% of biomass energy potential is lost through escaped heat. Some New Hampshire biomass plants such as Concord Steam in Concord have greatly increased their efficiency by using that energy to heat local businesses. Shaheen's legislation seeks to reward highly efficient biomass plants like Concord Steam and encourages inefficient plants to create jobs by upgrading their efficiency, and provides incentives for new plants to be more efficient.

"As we move toward energy independence, we need to ensure we're using our resources wisely and efficiently," said Steve Walker, president of New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, NH. "Senator Shaheen's amendment supports renewable biomass fuel companies like New England Wood Pellet and rewards efficient biomass energy producers."

The Shaheen amendment would give more energy credits to highly efficient biomass plants as part of the Energy Bill's proposed renewable energy standard, under which  energy producers must either meet a 15% renewable standard themselves or buy Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from renewable energy producers to satisfy the requirement. Under the Energy Bill, New Hampshire's biomass energy plants would receive RECs for the energy they produce and would be able to sell RECs to utilities and other energy producers.