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

August 23, 2019 

In this Week's Pellet Wire:


Executive Director's Notes: August 23, 2019

The Bronze Fonz

Last week I was joined by PFI vice-chairman and conference committee chairman Kenny Lisle (Energex) and member Mike Porter (Uzelac) in Milwaukee to perform a 2020 conference venue site visit and to round out some ideas we have regarding next year’s PFI conference. While it seems like we just wrapped up this year’s conference there’s lots to be done if next year’s event is to be as successful as this year’s.

First, we wanted to visit and decide on a venue for next year’s golf tournament, our board and conference VIP dinner, and our Thursday night networking event. We also wanted to make sure that the space we have contracted for at the Hyatt Regency is going to be optimal. We’re in the final stages of finalizing each of those and we did make some minor adjustments regarding our space at the hotel.

Our overwhelming feeling about our conference in Milwaukee next year was one of real excitement. Milwaukee is a unique American city with a real passion for and history and it isn’t surprising that many of their major tourist stops include storied manufacturers like Harley Davidson and Miller Brewing. We’re working hard to integrate our conference with what the city has to offer and allow our attendees to really get a flavor for the place. One of the “must-sees” that I recommend to everyone is a short walk to the bronze statue of the Happy Days character Fonzerelli, played brilliantly by Henry Winkler. The series was set in Milwaukee and the city’s most famous fictional character has been immortalized in bronze and given the fitting nickname, the Bronze Fonz.

Please make plans to join all of us and snap the obligatory selfie with the Bronze Fonz next June 23-26th in Milwaukee.

May 2019 Densified Biomass Fuel Report released Wednesday

The Energy Information Agency released the May 2019 Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report this Wednesday. The report can be found here. I find myself looking closely at the inventory data and comparing it to last year. Anyone who attended the conference this year knows that we exited the 2018-19 heating season with little to no carryover inventory. Many producers throughout pellet buying regions in the country found themselves shipping product that would normally have gone to inventory shipping to customers into April.

Inventory levels in the East currently show just over 100,000 tons as compared to just under 200,000 last year at the same time. The West is closing in on its numbers from last year showing May inventories at 56,000 tons compared to 69,000 tons the same time last year. The data makes it clear that producers know they’ve got some ground to make up. For instance, last March-May production in the east totaled 208,000 tons and in the same time frame, this year producers in the East produced nearly 275,000 tons. The data lags, but I’d bet strong production shows up in the June and July reports as producers work to improve their inventory positions before the snow starts to fly.

Against my better judgement…

I’m going to mention some recent coverage the broader wood pellet industry has gotten in mainstream media outlets. I really struggle with whether to amplify these exceedingly one-sided stories by reacting or responding to them.

One, a story by Bill McKibben ran in the New Yorker, a traditionally left-of-center outlet, while the other written by Charlie McGee ran in the traditionally more conservative Wall Street Journal. If you’ve read one piece critical of industrial wood pellet production and use, I feel a little like you’ve read them all. The same thing goes with rebuttals probably. In a conversation yesterday with a friend who represents private forest landowners, I found myself framing the argument differently than I had before. The debate about the use of wood fiber for energy production is simply a way to rehash the age-old argument about what is and is not an appropriate use of trees.

During this conversation I found myself asking why it matters how wood fiber is used so long as that fiber comes from a forest resource that is stable. Had McKibben picked up a phone and called private forest landowner in Arkansas, or Mississippi or Georgia he would have learned that a lack of markets is a far scarier reality than the specter of deforestation bandied about by watchdog groups.

Without an opportunity for an economic return, trees won’t be replanted. The carbon math on that scenario is very easy to calculate. I think the broader forest products segment must view every attack on a specific forest product or new use in the same way, as an attack against modern forestry. It really must be that simple. Working forests in this country are an incredible success story by any measure. We have forests because of markets, not in spite of them and as a representative of forest product manufacturers who produce a heating product I can’t sit idly by and let stories that suggest that energy production isn’t an appropriate use for wood fiber go unchecked. So, if you need to get your hackles up and refresh your memory of what a one-sided hit piece reads like, follow those two links.

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

Social Media Campaign Webinar Held August 21 – Check Out the Video

PFI held a webinar on this year’s pellet heating social media campaign this week. We appreciate all who joined us. If you missed the webinar, click here to view the video and see what we have in store for this year’s social media campaign. Also, please share the link with any retailers you know who may be interested in participating! 

Send us Photos! 

 Photo of the Week


We’re building a collection of photos of our members, their pellets mills and product. Send them to Carrie Annand at [email protected]. This week's featured photo by Mike Porter is from last week's conference scouting trip to Milwaukee, WI.

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Have News to Share on Pellet Wire?

We'd love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! We want to be the first to know your company's recent developments to share them with the wider pellet fuels industry.

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

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Industry News

EU demand for wood pellets continues to grow (Biomass Magazine): 

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network predicts the EU market for wood pellets will likely grow this year ...

Read Full Article

EIA: Densified biomass fuel sales reach 640,000 tons in April (Biomass Magazine): 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released data showing U.S. manufacturers produced approximately 770,000 tons of densified biomass fuel in April, with sales reaching 640,000 tons ...

Read Full Article

How biomass helps farmers make the most out of “waste wood” (Mother Nature Network):

The leftover wood that tree farms and other agriculture operations often end up with offers new value as a source of energy ...

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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