Subsidized Jonesboro biomass plant spent days offline in March

Stored Solar’s Jonesboro biomass plant — the one with “invoicing disputes” that loggers called not getting paid — was basically idle for the last week of March.

The latest figures from the Maine Public Utilities Commission show how much subsidy each of the generators collected on an hourly basis.

Both contracts are structured differently, which is the reason that subsidy totals for ReEnergy’s Ashland and Fort Fairfield plants decreased in the middle of the month.

For March, the Jonesboro plant collected less than half of the subsidy collected for production at Stored Solar’s West Enfield facility. The figures give more detail to the impact of loggers curtailing deliveries to the Jonesboro plant, which Stored Solar vice president Bill Harrington described in a March filing with regulators.

Both Stored Solar plants get a fixed $13.40 subsidy per megawatt-hour generated. ReEnergy gets paid the difference between $46.50 and the current local price (the locational marginal price) on the wholesale market. That means when the price is below $46.50, they get a subsidy. When it’s higher, the accounting runs the other way.

The chart below reflects that pricing. The area below the line is when ReEnergy received a subsidy payment. The times above are when it paid back.

That contract for differences delivered ReEnergy some kind of subsidy about 78 percent of the time during March.

Since the first subsidies started rolling out to Stored Solar, the hourly payments also allow comparison of how each deal is working out for each supplier and each plant.

Since beginning to receive the two-year subsidy, Jonesboro’s logged an hourly average subsidy of $85.92. That’s compared with hourly averages of $193.23 in West Enfield.

[Loggers butt heads with LePage over biomass contract changes]

With only March on the books, both of ReEnergy’s plants collected about $240 per hour each.

The deal for both generators applies only to the first 40 megawatt-hours the companies generate from their respective plants. That represents about all of Stored Solar’s capacity and a portion of the capacity at the ReEnergy facilities.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.