Local biomass jobs in Northern California might be saved by an amendment to SB859. The bill and the workers affected await the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.
The amendment to SB859 will require utilities across the state to purchase 125 megawatts of power from existing biomass facilities. Biomass facilities like Burney Forest Power, Shasta Green, and Franklin Logging are among the companies affected.
The last minute bill was co-written by District 1 Assemblyman Brian Dahle, who says it covers the distribution of greenhouse funding. “So this bill being signed today will allow PG&E and the other utilities to go in and purchase that power and keep those facilities running,” said Assemblyman Dahle.
Last month, Burney Forest Power Connected issued a 60-day notice to Shasta Green, saying they would no longer buy wood trimmings, thus ending their supply of steam in the process. In turn, both Shasta Green and Franklin Logging were forced to issue 60-day notices to their employees.
Without the bill, Assemblyman Dahle estimates that 450 to 500 jobs are at stake in his district alone. The bill is all that can be done on the legislative side; it will be up to power plants and local utilities to create the contracts. Beyond helping to save jobs, SB859 also aims to reduce the threat of wildfires. Sixty percent of the fuel used to create the 125 megawatts must come from areas hit hardest by the ongoing drought and bark beetle infestation.