NEFI Preserves Bioheat Definition

STREATOR, Ill. (DTN) -- The New England Fuel Institute and the National Biodiesel Board said they worked together this week to change a provision in a recently proposed energy bill in the U.S. Senate that would have defined "bioheat" as heating generated from wood pellets and other wood under federal law.

U.S. Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced a comprehensive energy bill last week called the "Energy Policy Modernization Act." Upon review, NEFI found that Section 3017 of the bill would define "bioheat" as "woody biomass used to generate heat" for the purpose of expanding research into wood-based heat and power.

NEFI in a Legislative Alert to its members said, "It appears the bill's authors were unaware of the National Biodiesel Board's trademark of the term bioheat, which refers specially to ASTM D-6751 compliant B100 biodiesel mixed with ASTM D-396 compliant heating oil."

NEFI alerted the NBB to the issue. NBB notified the committee that defining "bioheat" as wood heating products would conflict with the existing bioheat trademark.

NEFI also expressed concern to members of the New England delegation that it would complicate research into biodiesel-blended heating oil at the National Oilheat Research Alliance and at federal and state agencies, and create general confusion in the marketplace.

As a result of these efforts Murkowski agreed to replace all instances of "bioheat" with "woody biomass heat."

Bioheat, typically at blends of up to 20% biodiesel in heating oil, competes for market share with natural gas across the Northeast. In the Northeast, 25% of the nation's households use heating oil compared to 6% for the nation, according to the Energy Information Administration.

New York City, the largest municipal consumer of heating oil in the country, instituted a citywide 2% biodiesel requirement in October 2012. New York City accounts for one-third of the Northeast heating oil market.

NEFI said in a news release this morning it is "closely monitoring the development of comprehensive energy legislation in Congress."

Both the House and Senate have offered bills that, at least in their initial drafts, focus mainly on efficiency and grid reliability. These bills currently have strong bipartisan support. However, that may change as the bills are subjected to amendments during committee mark-ups and on the floor of the House and Senate this fall.