PFI Executive Director Testimony Before International Code Council Defending Wood Pellets for Home Heating as Renewable

Members of the International Code Council Residential Code Committee;

I’m here today to ask you not to wrongly exclude wood energy from your list of qualifying renewable energy sources. Since participating in this discussion with this body and your colleagues in the commercial committee I have heard passionate debate about wood and wood pellet heating and whether or not it is a technology that should be recognized as renewable within building codes. Regrettably, I have also heard the inaccuracies and misunderstandings about a product that the Pellet Fuels Institute feels strongly may be the best story of resource utilization in the renewable energy sector.

The Energy Information Administration data makes clear that overwhelmingly, the sources of fiber for home heating pellets come from a sawmill and secondary wood products manufacturing sites. In 2022, wood pellet manufacturers purchased 8 million tons of residuals from these very sources.

In past conversations, the specter of deforestation in the southeast arising from the inclusion of wood heating in a list of qualifying technologies has been forwarded. Simply stated, this is a fallacy. Annual removal data makes it clear that industrial wood pellets are not contributing to deforestation. Moreover, these arguments wrongly conflate the fiber procurement realities of industrial pellet manufacturing with the wood residue streams utilized by producers of wood pellets for home heating. Still, I am not here today to debate the merits of industrial wood pellets for electric generation in Europe. Instead, I am here today to ask that this committee recognize the virtue of utilizing the wood waste generated by the production of home-building materials for the manufacture of a home heating fuel that is very much renewable.

Finally, I noted that one of the justifications for the exclusion of the wood heating offered by the proponent of this amended language was a definition inside of the Energy Information Administration. I submit for the committee’s consideration a definition inclusive of wood and wood processing wastes also found on the EIA website. Under “Biomass explained” the website says “Biomass sources for energy include: Wood and wood processing wastes – firewood, wood pellets and wood chips, lumber and furniture mill sawdust and waste, and black liquor from pulp and paper mills. I will include a link to this citation in the chat for further review by committee members.

Wood pellet manufacturing is an important cog in the wheel of sustainable wood products manufacturing in this country. Please do not adopt language drawing its virtue into question.

Thank you.

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