Catch up with PFI in this issue of the Pellet Wire!
February 4, 2022

From the Director's Desk:

Winters New Normal

Does anyone remember the last time any pellet burning region of this country had a good, long, deep winter? I’m looking at you, Bruce Lisle. This home heating season has had me spending a good amount of time in the Heating Degree Day data, and while this week’s most recent numbers show an improvement against last year’s HDDs, we’re still well off the Climate Prediction Center’s long-term trend in virtually all wood pellet markets. If anyone can point me to a data-set that reports total HDDs in key pellet markets over a longer time period (say 10 or 20 years’ worth), I’ll buy you the best pork shank dinner available in Wisconsin at this year’s Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference.  

The question I think our industry must ask itself is, "Is this the new normal for winter?". I typically eschew clichés like “new normal,” but in this instance it feels appropriate. If year after year winter is going to provide 5% or 10% fewer HDDs then we’re participating in a shrinking market, UNLESS we can systematically deploy more stoves. 5% more stoves burning wood pellets this year than last covers the HDD shortfall. This is why the Pellet Fuels Institute, other trade associations, and our members remain committed to federal policy incentivizing purchases of qualifying pellet burning appliances. We achieved a victory at the end of 2020 when provisions of the BTU Act were included in a spending bill that passed just as the last days of the year leaked away. 

While the industry cheered these tax credits, they weren’t comprehensive (leaving out commercial and institutional deployments) and they came with a deadline (December 31, 2023). The effort to expand and extend these tax credits began immediately, an effort the PFI is still engaged with. If you’d like to hear how you can help, please contact me. 

The PFI Index

Heating Degree Days (norm vs previous year) 

 Location From Norm  Jan. 2021
Portland, ME down 12% up 3%
Grand Rapids, MI down 13% down 1%
Lebanon, NH down 42% up 7%
Lewiston, MT down 15% no change
Buffalo, NY down 16% down 1%
Harrisburg, PA down 16% up 4%
Rapid City, SD down 14% down 3%
Spokane, WA down 11% up 4%
Baker, OR down 3% up 17%
Wausau, WI down 15% down 8%
Little Rock, AR down 20% down 17%
Youngstown, OH down 14% up 3%

Seeking Sponsors for Milwaukee

Over the course of the next two weeks I’ll be reaching out to our historical partners for the PFI Annual Conference asking them to once again support our event. Our annual conference provides an important platform to compare notes, examine our shared opportunities and challenges and reconnect with old friends. I’ve also been adamant that the PFI Annual Conference is the single most efficient event if your aim is to connect with key decisions makers in the pellet manufacturing sector. Our sponsorship prospectus has been published on the PFI website. 

Become A Sponsor

I’d like to draw special attention to the conference VIP & Board Night at the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, June 21. Diamond and Platinum level sponsorships include an invitation to a night that promises to be a fun, intimate gathering with our board of directors. We added this benefit as a means of clearly expressing our appreciation to those sponsors who support us at the highest levels.

  —Tim Portz
  Executive Director

  Photo of the Week:

Merriment in Milwaukee: For those of you who heeded my challenge for an HDD data set that spans 10 or 20 years, this was taken at the venue for the promised pork shank. If you are planning on joining us in Milwaukee, I highly recommend taking in some of the city’s famous German cuisine. I enjoy old photographs and this one caught my attention during our site visit a few years ago now. It captures the scene outside Mader’s Restaurant when the prohibition on alcohol was lifted. Milwaukee hasn’t looked back since.  

Photo: Tim Portz

Send Us Photos! Help us build a collection of photos of our members, their pellet mills, and products! Send images to Tim Portz at [email protected].

Industry News

Heating Degree Days Data

(Worthy of a bookmark.) - I'll keep this link active for the remainder of the heating season. 
View Data

EIA Monthly Densified Biomass Report (with October data)

As of October 2021, the monthly data collection included 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel.
Read Article

Researcher works to heat homes with canola pellets

After years of meticulous research, Ajay Dalai’s exploration of canola meal pellets as an eco-friendly alternative to coal and natural gas for both heat and energy is poised to move into its next phases – scaled-up pellet production and commercialization.
Read Article

Enviva to double production capacity, signs MOU with SAF producer

Enviva Inc. on Jan. 19 announced accelerated plans to double its wood pellet production capacity and said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a U.S.-based customer that plans to convert woody biomass supplied by Enviva into low-carbon transportation fuels, including sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Read Article

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Fuel Availability

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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.

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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, promotions, or other news.

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