Likely the oldest known fuel type, biomass refers to any biological material that can be used as energy. Biomass energy is most commonly derived from low-grade wood waste like woodchips, wood pellets and tree limbs resulting from tree-thinning activities. Agricultural crops, crop residues and farm animal wastes are also forms of biomass that can be converted to energy. There are several methods used to convert biomass to electricity, but the simplest is burning it to generate steam, which is then used to generate electricity.
In Georgia, trees are an abundant renewable natural resource when properly managed as part of a balanced energy program. Processing wood as biomass is considered carbon-neutral since the resultant emissions equal the carbon dioxide absorbed by the trees as they mature. Currently, Georgia Power has more than 330 megawatts of power purchase agreements with various Biomass Proxy Qualified Facilities, some under contract for more than 30 years.
A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC), sometimes called a renewable energy credit, represents the renewable attributes of energy produced from a renewable energy facility. RECs are considered a commodity and can be sold or traded separately from the actual energy. Georgia Power purchases only the null energy output from the renewable generating facilities that have contracted to sell energy from their solar facilities through the Large Scale Solar (LSS) program and the initial (2013/2014) Advance Solar Initiative (ASI). The sole ownership of RECs belongs to each generating facility, as specifically stated in each respective power purchase agreement (PPA). The original intent of these programs was to grow renewable resources in Georgia, while allowing the generating facilities to retain the benefits of the RECs. Georgia Power does not report emission reductions from the null energy purchased through PPAs that do not bundle the RECs for sale to Georgia Power.