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

March 24, 2023

From the Director's Desk: December Data Rounds out 2022 Picture, is This the New Normal? Winter Extending his Stay?

December Data Rounds out 2022 Picture, is this the New Normal?

Last week the EIA published the December data of its Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report, rounding out the statistical picture of the 2022 calendar year. At 1.8 million tons in wood pellet sales, the year offered a rebound from a disappointing 2021 but fell short of the 2 million tons mark that has emerged as a nice round line of demarcation. From 2018-20 the industry inked three consecutive years with sales above 2 million tons, and now the industry has recorded its second consecutive year below 2 million. The PFI Heating Degree Day Index from December 31 found all pellet markets in the Northeast ahead of the previous year’s accumulated HDDs. While Portland, Maine, and Lebanon, New Hampshire were only marginally ahead of the prior year’s pace, other locales in the East like Buffalo, New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania were 20% of the prior year’s pace. Those numbers help to explain the recovery from last year’s dismal December sales but demand fell well short of the December high water sales mark of 216,915 tons in 2016. 

Sales Data (2021 Data in Parentheses) 
December Sales - 188,664 tons (144,315)
U.S. Total Sales - 1,815,592 tons (1,720,654)

Wood pellet production dipped to 141,466 tons, the lowest production output logged in the year since June, and represents the lightest December production since 2018. It is interesting to note that the industry carried far less inventory into the month, 112,000 tons compared to 163,000 in 2021, but this did not excite producers into greater output. Instead, producers allowed the month to deplete overall inventories by almost 30,000 tons leaving ending stocks for the year at 85,259 tons more in line with the December inventory positions of 2018-20. 

Production Data (2021 Data in Parentheses)
December Production - 141,466 tons (145,361)
U.S. Total Production - 1,741,388 tons (1,789,550) 

Year-End Inventory - 85,259 tons (185,800)

Winter Extending his Stay?

Last week winter threw a haymaker in the Northeast, letting go with a spring Nor’easter that crippled Logan airport for a day and locked motorists down all across the Northeast. The most recent PFI HDD Index showed modest improvement against last year’s accumulated HDDs, but most markets in the Northeast still lag behind last year’s HDDs. Unless lower than normal temps forecast for the next 10 days fully deliver, it seems unlikely that when we see March numbers around conference time this March will be enough to save a disappointing 2022-23 heating season. March sales tend to be highly variable as consumers are unlikely to make a final fuel purchase for the year unless the thermostat really bottoms out. In 2019 producers sold nearly 160,000 tons of wood pellets. Last March the industry limped just past 70,000 tons in sales. Here’s hoping the recent spate of inclement weather boosts consumer demand for heating pellets and a late-season “top-off” will drive sales.

Registration Open for Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference 

Attendee registration for the 2023 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference is now officially open. Please make plans to join the Pellet Fuels Institute membership and board of directors June 6-8 in Austin, Texas. We are looking forward to hosting our members and attendees in a great city with great food and music. Please make plans to attend today. 

Ready to register today

—Tim Portz
 Executive Director

Portz Testifies in Support of Wood Pellet Heating Before International Energy Code Council

On Wednesday, Tim Portz, Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute, testified on behalf of wood pellet heating before a committee within the International Energy Code Council considering a new definition of biomass in its commercial building code language. The Pellet Fuels Institute finds it critical that whenever definitions of renewable technologies are being debated and included in documents that are referenced in building codes, an honest representation of how wood pellets are manufactured is included in the discussion. The PFI was proud to play that role for the sector on Wednesday. Below is the statement offered by Portz: 

Good afternoon. My name is Tim Portz and I serve as the Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute a trade organization representing those companies operating in the wood pellets for space heating and home cooking and barbecuing sectors. Wood pellets are engineered wood fuel manufactured from the residual fibers left over from the primary and secondary wood products manufacturing sectors. Wood pellet manufacturers purchase these residual streams from upstream production sites, spending nearly $300 million on 7.5 million tons of these materials in 2022 alone.7.5 million tons of material is a difficult mental image to form. Try this. Imagine a convoy of semi-trailers reaching from Anchorage to central Florida all full of wood chips and sawdust. That convoy is converted into a price stable, very much renewable fuel every year. While very much a niche fuel, wood pellets are a vital contributor to space heating needs for nearly 1 million American homes. 

Wood pellet manufacturing is a vital cog in the wheel of sustainable wood use in this country. Its use extends the value of wood, ensuring that the value of each harvested tree is maximized. Wood pellet manufacturers operate in 31 states and wood pellets are bought and used in every state in the nation. When considering how your codes treat biomass heating, please hold in your minds the real story of wood pellet manufacturing and use in the United States, the story of a carbon-beneficial, very much renewable, value-added wood product.


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PFI 2022 Annual Conference


Photo of the Week:

Past Pellet Fuels Institute Board President Rob Davis

Past Pellet Fuels Institute Board President Rob Davis Honored at International Biomass Conference & Expo

On February 28, 2023 at the International Biomass Conference & Expo Rob Davis (Forest Energy) was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Bioenergy Award. The award, given annually, recognizes individual achievement in Bioenergy. Davis was a pioneer in wood pellet manufacturing and championed the role of wood pellets in forest restoration and fire mitigation in the American West. 

Photo Credit: Biomass Magazine  

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 December data)

As of December 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 2,610 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 March 18, 2023:

View Data

Climate Prediction Center 8-14 Day Temperature and Precipitation Outlook

8 to 14 Day Outlooks
Valid: March 29 to April 05, 2023
Updated: 22 March 2023

Read Article

Russia won't be able to consume entire volume of wood pellets country produces 

Wood pellet production in Russia has fallen sharply since EU sanctions came into full force last July. Prior to that, Russia exported more than 90% of the pellets produced in the country. In 2022, the supply of fuel pellets abroad, according to Lesprom Analytics, fell by 29% to 1.7 million tons.

Read Article

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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.

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

Pellet Fuels Institute

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