AUGUSTA – The struggling biomass industry could benefit from legislation moving through Congress.

The Senate on Wednesday passed an energy bill that was amended to direct federal agencies to establish policies that recognize electricity generated by biomass plants as renewable and carbon-neutral.

Biomass plants, which produce electricity from waste wood and low-value timber, such as branches and tree tops, are struggling to compete in the energy market because of low oil and natural gas prices. Two of Maine’s six plants have closed this year.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, sponsored the amendment, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The bill now goes to a conference committee to resolve differences between the Senate bill and a version the House has passed.

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