Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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9/16/22  3:30 pm
Commenter: Jason Eberstein, Enviva

Comments on VA Energy Plan

Enviva has ten manufacturing and six port terminal facilities across the US South, including Southampton and Chesapeake, Virginia.  We operate 24/7 to provide global energy companies with reliable, renewable fuel to replace fossil fuels and complement wind and solar technologies. In Southampton, Enviva produces 760,000 metric tons per year of wood pellets that are stored and shipped overseas from the Port of Chesapeake, VA. Both facilities have been in operation since 2013 and currently provide ZYX direct and indirect jobs with a total annual economic impact in VA of $XYZ.


Enviva was founded to be part of the energy solution—to improve the environmental impact of energy generation by helping to replace fossil fuels with sustainable wood bioenergy. Today, as the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, we are maintaining and improving the health of our forests while reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis around the world.


As you work on an updated VA Energy Plan, we ask that you ensure that sustainable woody biomass remains a critical part of the renewable energy portfolio in the Commonwealth, providing an alternative low-carbon renewable fuel made in the U.S. from sustainably managed, healthy and growing forests in Virginia.  


Thoughtful and sustainable management of our Commonwealth’s forests advances Virginia’s priorities on multiple fronts. In addition to reducing emissions, renewable biomass energy production can provide critical support for local, rural economies, reduce energy dependence from other countries, such as Russia, and strengthen the overall health of public and private forests. 


The U.S. has work to do if it wants to lead on climate change. We are moving slower than Europe and Asia, and missing opportunities to use all renewable low-carbon technologies. Biomass is a key part of the solution which is available today. And one that is backed by science, embraced by climate leaders around the world, and supported by Republicans and Democrats across this country and Virginia.  


We believe sustainably sourced biomass must: come from a region where forest carbon stocks are stable or increasing; require that forests are regrown after harvest; not use wood that could have another high-value use; and be harvested with respect for biodiversity and conservation value. We believe all wood fiber procurement should be sourced according to these principles, and compliance should be independently verified. 


The use of biomass as a climate change mitigation measure has been recognized and continues to be supported by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), International Energy Agency, U.K. Committee on Climate Change, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, European Union, and many other leading academic and government bodies around the world. 


The fundamental science on the carbon and forestry benefits of wood bioenergy, when produced sustainably, is well-established and remains unchanged. It has been attested to by the leading scientists and academics who specialize in this field and is underpinned by a growing body of academic literature, including crucial research published in 2019and 2020. Biomass can provide firm, dispatchable baseload power, and it can provide this low-carbon power today. As a result, biomass offers an immediate low-carbon solution, and bioenergy must be part of the mix as we consider the global energy transition. 


A wide variety of alternative energy solutions must be deployed today, and we ask that you continue to include biomass in that mix in the Commonwealth. Sustainably sourced biomass can displace coal 1:1, keep the lights on when wind and solar energy are scarce and reduce carbon emissions by 85 percent on a lifecycle basis.


Thank for the opportunity to share our thoughts.

CommentID: 128734