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

February 10, 2023

From the Director's Desk: Is Austin Weird? We’ll Find Out this Summer, Minnesota Gets it Right

Is Austin Weird? We’ll Find Out this Summer

I like trivia. In fact, my favorite part of the information age is the ease with which I (we, all of us) can round out our understanding of a subject, learn where something came from, or quickly place things historically. This summer we will take the Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference to Austin, Texas. If you’ve been to Austin or heard about Austin, you may have also heard the official/unofficial slogan of the city “Keep Austin Weird”. While the city has long been identified as perhaps the most off-kilter town in a conservative state, the phrase was coined just over 20 years ago. It seems a local radio station was raising money while Red Wassenich, a librarian from Austin Community College called in to donate. The host asked Red why he was contributing to the cause Red replied, “I don’t know, it helps keep Austin weird”. The Austin Independent Business Alliance latched onto the idea, and ever since the slogan has been a rallying cry for the city’s independent businesses. The Pellet Fuels Institute is absolutely a fan of independent businesses.

While I would not assert that the wood pellet industry is weird (it does have its characters as any industry does), I would suggest we’ve had a weird year. In that way, Austin is a good fit. 

What’s been weird about it? I’d point to the global rush for wood pellets that was the talk of the industry throughout summer and into early fall. The world needed 2, maybe 3 million tons of wood pellets. Pellet buyers were calling anyone with presses and fiber, regardless of where they were located. Photos of pallets of pellets for sale in Europe were shown at industry conferences for the equivalent of $800/ton. Energy in general was promised to be in short supply, and folks were talking about all of Europe setting their thermostats back significantly in an homage to Jimmy Carter. 

Then, poof. Just as quickly as the demand for wood pellets from overseas came, it went. The phone calls stopped. The urgency subsided. Overseas prices reverted to the mean.

And what about the weather stateside? And overseas? I’m actually hopeful that this winter, and last year’s, will one day be considered ‘weird’ anomalies because if this is the new normal, we’ll need more stoves burning pellets out there because the existing installed base of stoves with these mild winters yields lackluster sales. 

What isn’t weird, about a PFI Annual Conference is that it will draw wood pellet producers from across the country into the discussion. It is our industry’s meet and greet and annual conversation about our business. Please, make plans to attend June 6-8 in Austin to sort out for yourself which is weirder, the city or the year we’re having.

For a snapshot of the scheduled, our preliminary agenda can be found here.

Minnesota Gets it Right

A few weeks ago I asked people to have a look at a Biomass Magazine story about a decision out of Australia whereby the government there decided that biomass-derived energy from native forests would not be considered ‘renewable’ nor be eligible to contribute to the country’s renewable energy targets. I suggested it hinted at or was a variant of an existential threat to our business. I still feel that way. That is why I’m pleased to report that closer to home, just across the Mississippi river, the State of Minnesota has established aggressive renewable energy targets (55% by 2035) AND named biomass as an eligible technology. The article makes it clear that biomass will be considered renewable which is great but is less clear where biomass lands with regard to the ‘carbon-free’ requirements outlined in the same legislation. “Carbon benefit” is the new frontier in energy discussions and I suspect it will completely reshape conversations about renewables and fossil fuels alike. Give the story a look as I think it serves as a prologue of what is to come with state and federal energy policy in the decade to come. 

—Tim Portz
 Executive Director


Pellet Fuels Institute Standards Program:
Reviewing the New Look and Administration of the World’s Most Robust Wood Pellet Quality Program
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
10:00 – 11:00 am Central time

The Pellet Fuels Institute Standards Program was established over a decade ago to provide certainty to pellet retailers, consumers and appliance manufacturers of consistent, high-quality pellet production. Developed in concert will wood pellet producers, appliance manufacturers and quality assurance professionals the PFI Standards Program gained rapid adoption across the United States, standardizing quality control measures across the industry and introducing regular third-party testing and audits to wood pellet production. In 2022 the program underwent its first major revision since its inception. Join us for this webinar where the very noticeable changes to the consumer facing Quality Mark as well as some less public but important changes in the accreditation structure underpinning the program.

register now


Tim Portz Image

Tim Portz,
Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute



Chris Wiberg

Chris Wiberg,
Vice President of Laboratories,
Timber Products Inspection/Biomass
Energy Lab
(Standards Committee Chair)


Save the Date 2023

PFI 2022 Annual Conference


Photo of the Week:

Temp Map

Fun While it Lasted?: The deep freeze conditions that enveloped the Northeast last weekend came and went in a matter of days. The PFI Heating Degree Day Index, now well along into winter, shows that with a few exceptions (northern Rockies, western plains), the country is experiencing a mild winter similar to last year’s. The Twin Cities 10-day forecast calls for temps in the upper 20s and 30s and even a day or two in the low 40s, all with full sun. Fantastic weather to melt some of our ample snowpack, but not great for pellet consumption. 

Source: Climate Prediction Center 

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 (now with October data)

As of October 2022, the monthly data collection included 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel. These manufacturers had a total production capacity of 13.30 million tons per year and collectively had an equivalent of 2,579 full-time employees.

Read Article

Heating Degree Day Data

Heating Degree Day Data Weekly Summary
Climate Prediction Center-NCEP-NWS-NOAA
Accumulations are from July 1, 2022 TO Feb 4, 2023

Read Article

Canfor announces plans to close Chetwynd pellet plant

Canadian forest products company Canfor Corp. on Jan. 25 announced it will permanently close its pellet plant in Chetwynd, British Columbia, as part of a restructuring of its operations within the province.

Read Article

USDA solicits applications for wood energy projects

The USDA’s Forest Service today announced it will offer $41 million through the 2023 Wood Innovations Grant and 2023 Community Wood Grant programs to spark innovation and create new markets for wood products and renewable wood energy.

Read Article

Europe’s Gas Supply Stabilises After Colder Weather

Colder-than-normal temperatures across Northwest Europe since the middle of January have steadied gas prices and halted the bloat in storage, but the region is still on track for a near-record carryout at the end of winter.

Director’s Note: Don’t let the headline fool you. The story is centered on the mild winter Europe has had and the impact on natural gas inventories

Read Article

Minnesota bill updates RPS, creates carbon-free mandate

Minnesota lawmakers have approved a bill that aims to implement two new mandates for the state’s electric utilities—a renewable electricity standard and a carbon-free electricity standard. The bill names biomass energy as an eligible technology.

Director’s NoteThis is the article I mentioned in my commentary earlier. A short read, and worth your time. 

Read Article

PFI Career Center


Check out open positions, post your resumé, or post a job.

Fuel Availability


Are you a PFI member, pellet manufacturer, or distributor that has fuel available? Email the PFI Office to have your listing updated or added to the PFI website.

Become a Member


Not a member yet? Learn more about how PFI can work for you and join today!

Join a PFI Committee

Follow PFI on Twitter, and Link with us on LinkedIn!

We’d like to connect and interact with PFI members and anyone else involved in pellet fuels production!

Here’s how you can help us build our online community:

  1. Follow us on Twitter, and LinkedIn!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Tim Portz news or other ideas to post on PFI’s social media.

Join a PFI Committee

We welcome and encourage all interested PFI members to get involved in our committees. There are many opportunities to help steer the association. No matter where your expertise and interests lie, we have a committee that will suit you. Help us plan our next conference, shape our policy agenda, lead communications outreach, or grow the PFI Standards Program.

Visit PFI's Committee Page for more information.

Have News to Share in the Pellet Wire?

We would love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! Let us be the first to know about your company's recent developments, and we will share them with the broader pellet fuels industry.

Please consider the Pellet Wire for staff announcements, new hires, promotions, and retirements.

Please get in touch with Tim Portz via email at [email protected] with information on your company's growth, job openings, promotions, or other news.

Pellet Fuels Institute

[email protected]
(206) 209-5277