Catch up with PFI in this issue of the Pellet Wire!

November 11, 2022

From the Director's Desk: Will November Deliver? 

In this opening stanza for November, it feels like the unseasonably mild temperatures that dominated October are ending. At the time of writing, temperatures are expected to plummet by the end of the week in the Upper Midwest (snowfall predicted in northern Minnesota), hang on in the Northeast (forecasted high in Portland, Maine of 63 on Friday) and be more seasonal in the Pacific Northwest (47 forecasted for Seattle on Friday). 

The Heating Degree Days that have started to accumulate this month will dictate the rate at which consumers burn wood pellets and determine the month’s sales fortunes and whether they hew closer to the monthly average (220,167), the high-water mark for the month (243,502 in 2016) or the lackluster November of the past two years (190,000 and 194,000 in 2020 and 2021 respectively).

November Averages (2016 – 2021) and monthly record (in parentheses) 

Sales                      220,167 tons (243,502)
Production            139,331 tons (178,976)
Inventory Use       36,711 tons (77,572)

When looking at the inventory depletion rate for November, the month’s unpredictable nature really shows up. While most Novembers see producers reaching into inventory to stay apace with inbound orders, it isn’t a certainty. Last year producers actually added 22,000 tons of inventory during the month. That is a bit of an outlier and the average depletion for the 2016-2021 time period is 36,711 tons. The largest inventory depletion to occur in November came back in 2016 when producers moved over 77,000 tons of inventory. 

Also at play in November, overseas wood pellet demand and sales is being felt all across the pellet manufacturing segment in North America. While the data currently available via the EIA’s monthly reporting is current only through July, the impact of foreign demand is difficult to gauge or discern. While production has surpassed monthly averages since March, they haven’t eclipsed the totals for the year prior. Through July wood pellet production comes in at 944,000 tons about 60,000 tons off last year’s total through July. In what has become a theme regarding data observations lately, the last time the industry logged less than 1 million tons of production through July was 2018. 

Pellet Fuels Index Stabilizes

Now in its fourth week of being live for the 2022-23 heating season, the PFI HDD Index has accumulated enough data to make some observations of value. While ALL locales in the Index are lagging long term averages, most cities on the Index have logged more Heating Degree Days through the early days of November than through the same time period last year the exception being the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures there have been mild, but forecasts for this week show a return to the mean. 

—Tim Portz
 Executive Director

Save the Date 2023

PFI 2022 Annual Conference


Photo of the Week:

Two men sitting in a restaurant smiling
Photo: T. Portz

The PFI Drops By: During the PFI Chairman’s Tour in October we stopped by the Stove Depot in North Clarendon, Vermont and talked pellet availability and consumer buying patterns with Chad Merrill at his North Clarendon location. L to R: Tim Portz (PFI), Ben Rose (Michigan Wood Fuels) and Chad Merrill (Stove Depot).

 Send Us Your Photos! Help us build a collection of photos of our members, their pellet mills, and products! Send images to Tim Portz at tim@pelletheat.

Industry News

EIA Monthly Densified Biomass Report (with July data)

As of July 2022, the monthly data collection included 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel. These manufacturers had a total production capacity of 13.33 million tons per year and collectively had an equivalent of 2,460 full-time employees.

Read Article

Heating Degree Day Data

Heating Degree Day Data Weekly Summary
Climate Prediction Center-NCEP-NWS-NOAA
Accumulations are from Jul  1, 2022 TO Nov 5, 2022

Read Article

Current Heating Fuel Prices in Maine

The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducts a weekly survey of heating fuel prices, obtained from fuel retailers statewide. This survey provides the current Maine cash prices, in dollars, rounded to the nearest penny. Prices are typically updated on Thursdays.

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USDA: Wood pellet exports top 766,508 metric tons in September

The U.S. exported 766,508.2 metric tons of wood pellets in September, down from 880,876 metric tons the previous month, but up from 690,514.5 metric tons in September 2021, according to date released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service on Nov. 3.

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Enviva releases Q3 results, continues to expand capacity

Enviva Inc. released third quarter financial results on Nov. 3, reporting in the company benefited from high wood pellet prices during the three-month period. Enviva also discussed the impacts of Hurricane Ian and announced progress with new capacity development.

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FutureMetrics discusses pellet supply shock in Europe

FutureMetrics on Oct. 31 published a new white paper explaining how reduced pellet supplies in Western Europe and the U.K. resulting from sanctions on Russia has produced a supply shock that has vastly increased prices. 

 Read Article

The US Northeast Is Hurtling Toward a Winter Heating Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- In the most densely populated corner of the US, temperatures are about to drop after a stretch of unusually warm weather. And the signs of a winter crisis are already multiplying.

 Read Article

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Have News to Share in the Pellet Wire?

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Pellet Fuels Institute

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