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

February 24, 2023

From the Director's Desk: A Big One Cometh, November Pellet Data Thoughts, Appalachian Wood Pellets Hosts House Ways and Means Committee

A Big One Cometh

This past weekend I opened my Accuweather app and was confronted with a snowstorm prediction offered not in inches, but in feet. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. As I type this, we are officially in the “calm before the storm” period but by the time you read this, the Twin Cities will be blanketed under as much as two feet of new snow. If the predictions prove accurate, the snowfall will rank in the top 10 snow events of all time in the state.

Apart from the inconvenience of dealing with such a massive influx of snow, I am inclined to cheer this prolongment of winter as so far accumulated Heating Degree Days have lagged long-term trends and even lagged last year’s mild winter. A look at the 10-day forecasts for Massena, New York; Portland, Maine and Burlington, Vermont all show that after this storm moves through depositing some new snow, the weather will return to the mild pattern that has dominated since January. All of those locales show temps in the mid-30s with a few low 40s showing up in at least one location. 

November Pellet Data Thoughts

Last week the Energy Information Administration updated its Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report with data from November of last year. My initial thoughts can be found below.


At 157,068 tons produced nationally, the November data suggests wood pellet producers were already beginning to doubt that the demand from overseas was going to be the bonanza the early hype suggested. Producers cracked the throttle from the prior month and just barely eclipsed a dismal 2021 total of 149,511. If there was going to be one region that deserves a call out, I would offer the East with a production total of 106,982 tons, a three-year high for the region in November. 

This brings the 2022 production total to 1,599,922 tons against a total of 1,644,189 tons through November last year. To put that into context, both 2019 and 2020 saw a production of over 1.8 million tons through November. 


I’ll stop short of calling November sales a return to the "salad days" of the late 2000-teens, but the numbers offered a nice bounce from a soft November in 2020 and 2021. At 214,929, the month made an honest effort at the monthly average of 220k. The average wholesale price retreated about $3 to $209.78. The standout region in the sales category was absolutely the West, posting 61,685 tons, the highest monthly sales total for the region since October 2019 (81,186 tons). November makes it four months in a row where sales numbers (U.S. total) eclipsed the totals from the year prior. The result is with one month of data left in the well it seems clear that 2022 sales figures will exceed those of last year. To date, sales are 1,626,928 tons compared to last year’s through-November total of 1,576,339 tons. A “better than last year” is all but a certainty now with last year’s sales total within 94,000 tons. At the same time, it’s also a certainty that 2022 finished below 2 million tons sold; we are just waiting for next month’s data drop to make it official.


Total U.S. inventory fell to 112,174 tons, a significant departure from last November's 163,356 tons. The industry has been lower (twice) in November in both 2020 and 2019. If December was a strong selling month and there were some production hiccups I think it’s possible next month’s inventory numbers will ebb even lower. A look back at the PFI index from the end of the year shows strong HDDs against the year prior in December, so I’m expecting the numbers WILL fall and maybe even approach the low fuel numbers of 19-20 that saw inventory bottom out at 50,000 tons at the end of January. 

Appalachian Wood Pellets Hosts House Ways and Means Committee

On February 6, more than 20 members of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing at Allegheny Wood Products in Petersburg, West Virginia. Allegheny Wood Products is a sister company of PFI-member Appalachian Wood Pellets and the wood residuals produced there are later converted into wood pellets. The committee, now operating within a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, held the hearing at Allegheny Wood Products as part of a larger effort to solicit the voices of the people participating in the American economy. Tom Plaugher, of Appalachian Wood Pellets, Inc., and his team were on hand to answer questions about their lumber and pellet business, building critical understanding with policymakers about wood pellets, how they are made and the impact policy can and does have on their markets. 

—Tim Portz
 Executive Director

Save the Date 2023

PFI 2022 Annual Conference


Photo of the Week:

Appalachian Wood Pellets Tom Plaugher

Tom Testifies: PFI Board Member Tom Plaugher (Appalachian Wood Pellets) testifies before a special session of the House Ways and Means Committee held at the company’s lumber operation in Petersburg, West Virginia. The committee, back under Republican leadership expressed an interest in hearing directly from American laborers about the state of the economy and the struggles facing workers and manufacturers alike.

Photo Credit: Appalachian Wood Pellets 

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 November data)

As of November 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 2,592 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 February 18, 2023:

View Data

Climate Prediction Center 8-14 Day Temperature and Precipitation Outlook

8 to 14 Day Outlooks
Valid: March 02 to 08, 2023
Updated: 22 February 2023

Read Article

Quality Matters

Those with roots in the North American wood pellet industry may be familiar with the story of the first transatlantic shipload of wood pellets setting sail from North America to Europe, which was done under the direction of industry pioneer John Swaan just over 25 years ago.

Director's Note: Featuring PFI Member Timber Products Inspection/Biomass Energy Lab and PFI Standards Committee chair Chris Wiberg.

Read Article

Electrification Nation

The inclusion of a 30% tax credit for qualifying residential pellet appliances in the sweeping Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has rightly been called the single largest policy victory for the wood pellet industry to date.

Director’s Note: I offer some commentary on the impact that electrification may have on our future marketplace and what it says about how biomass heating is regarded by policy makers with decarbonization goals.

Read Article

What They Are Saying: Appalachian Workers Share Struggles During Hearing on Biden Economy

Rising energy prices, the cost of living crisis, and generous government benefits fueling a labor shortage are the major challenges facing workers and local business owners who testified before the first hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means held in Petersburg, West Virginia.

Director’s Note: Featuring PFI member and board member Tom Plaugher, Appalachian Wood Pellets

Read Article

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