PFI's Weekly Newsletter



September 8, 2017

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

What is Happening with the PFI's Lawsuit Against the EPA?

If you remember back to February 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued controversial New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) under authority of the Clean Air Act that further regulated New Residential Wood Heaters and, for the first time, regulated Wood Pellet Fuels. The goal behind these new standards was to reduce the emissions from new wood burning appliances; standards for wood burning appliances were last updated by EPA in 1988. 

The EPA promulgated these standards after input from the wood appliance manufacturers (HPBA) and pellet fuel manufacturers (PFI), but did not adopt all the provisions suggested by either body. EPA also added language to wood pellet regulations that had not been previously disclosed in their proposed rule. After reading the details of these new standards, both HPBA and the PFI, hired legal representation in order to file a petition to protect our right to contest the new provisions in court. We also requested that EPA take action to revise the new rules. Our challenge to the regulations was essentially two-fold; we did not believe that the EPA had the statutory authority to regulate pellet fuel; and parts of the final regulations contained flaws and inaccuracies and needed, at minimum, to be corrected/clarified.

We filled our "petition for review" after learning from our attorneys that if we did not file, we would lose our chance to challenge the regulations in the future. At the same time, we sought to have a continued conversation with EPA about making changes to the final rules.

In the simplest terms, this 2015 ruling required that all new wood burning appliances be certified, and that that all wood pellets burned in these new appliances be certified by a 3rd party testing program: PFI Standards, ENPlus, or CANPlus. It also specified that operators of certified wood heaters and forced-air furnaces must use pellet fuel meeting standards already covered in these certification programs (length, diameter, density, moisture, etc.) as well as additional requirements and prohibitions not contained in certification programs.

For 18 months, there was consistent communication between the DOJ (the Department of Justice who represents the EPA) and the PFI concerning the litigation, but no progress was made. PFI also explored options to settle the litigation, but to date has been unable to reach any necessary agreement.

Those of us in the PFI that have participated in these dealings have quickly learned that the U.S. government can be difficult, and slow, to deal with. Since the regulation is now final, they in a sense, "hold all the cards" since it will take additional regulatory action to change the requirements. In addition, after the 2016 elections, the upper leadership of DOJ and EPA changed and is still undergoing change. In this context, and with a full litigation docket covering many major rules, I think it is safe to conclude that EPA and the DOJ had many priorities in which our litigation matter was only one.

On a positive note, PFI staff members participated in a conference call in August with representatives from the EPA & DOJ. We were told that the new administration was focusing on litigation matters like ours, raising the prospect that we may still be able to reach an acceptable agreement. If, and when, we see details of any EPA proposal, we will regroup to see what our next steps should be. All options continue to remain on the table including settlement or restarting our litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

New Bioenergy Day Video - Northwest Montana

The 2017 Bioenergy Day video has been released! Produced in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the video showcases how bioenergy supports the economy and promotes good forest management practices in Northwest Montana.

Please see below for more information on how you can be a part of Bioenergy Day 2017. 

Government Affairs Update 

Congress: Congress returned to Washington this week following the August recess to confront several "must pass" items in September. For one, legislation to fund the government, which was enacted earlier this year expires at the end of September. The Senate voted Thursday on a package that would fund the government through December 8 and also lift the debt ceiling (which we are also about to bump up against) to align with that same date. This package is being combined with a multi-billion dollar funding measure to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief. This relief package looks to be the first of what could be many installments as Hurricane Irma churns ominously toward the Southeastern U.S. coast.  

House and Senate leadership are signaling, and the President is tweeting, that tax reform continues to be a priority this fall. The House is expected to take up reform legislation in the October time frame, while the Senate looks to follow sometime in November. This appears ambitious at this point, but obviously we are engaged in the process and will keep you apprised of developments.   

NSPS for Wood Heaters: Next week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hear H.R. 453, legislation that would delay Step 2 of the New Source Performance Standards until 2023. The bill has bipartisan support and is likely to be reported from committee in the coming weeks. Please following this link to see the announcement for the hearing

Also next week, companion legislation to H.R. 453 is expected to be introduced in the Senate. Leading efforts in the upper chamber are Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).   

PFI Seeks Executive Director - Know Anyone Good?  

We are pleased to announce that Pellet Fuels Institute has opened a search for an Executive Director!

The Pellet Fuels Institute Executive Director Reports to the PFI Board of Directors to fulfill the association's mission. The ED is the key staff member and responsible for communicating effectively with the Board and providing, in a timely and accurate manner, all information necessary for the Board to function properly and to make informed decisions. The ED oversees PFI's fiscal management and oversees the PFI staff, anticipates operating within the approved budget, ensures maximum resource utilization, and maintenance of the organization in a positive financial position. The ED will also work with the PFI Board of Directors, Committees and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through membership, programs, strategic planning and community outreach. The ED is expected to have good written and oral communication skills as well as strong public speaking ability. Other specific job duties follow.

We welcome all references. Please see the full listing here, and direct any prospective applicants to send a cover letter and resume to [email protected] with "PFI ED Job" in the subject line. PFI will consider less than full-time for the right candidate.

SPR Packaging: Heavy Duty, High Performance Films and Bags

SPR has extensive experience in manufacturing films and bags that perform consistently on a multitude of industrial bagging lines. Our heavy duty films offer toughness, superior seals and performance, which help achieve higher production rates, less down time and improved productivity. Attention to detail and state-of-the-art printing and converting equipment allow us to make products that stand out among the crowd when displayed in the retail space. 

Please visit PFI's website to learn more. 

PA Pellets Qualifies for PFI Standards Program

The Pellet Fuels Institute this week announced the qualification of PA Pellets of Ulysses, Pennsylvania, to the PFI Standards Program as the 38th facility qualified for the program. The PFI Standards Program is a third-party accreditation program providing specifications for residential and commercial-grade pellet fuel. PA Pellets' parent company, Biomaxx, Inc. previously qualified its Arcade, New York facility Dry Creek Products into the program. 

"We at Biomaxx are thrilled that our second facility, PA Pellets, is now qualified by the PFI Standards Program," said Chris Modesti, President and CEO of Biomaxx. "We want our customers to know how much we value quality, and we've worked hard to ensure that our product meets the high standards set by the program. Our product hasn't changed except for the Quality Mark, which will appear on our bags to remind our customers that they are getting the highest quality pellet. Our pellets will keep you warm while helping to extend the life of your pellet appliances."  

Read the full news release on PFI's website

Send Us Your Pellet Production Photos!

We want to see photos of what's happening with the pellet fuels industry in your neck of the woods. Send us photos with captions - facilities, retailers, production, appliances, happy customers! We'll run the photos in Pellet Wire.

Follow PFI on Facebook and Connect with us on LinkedIn! 

This week, PFI updated its LinkedIn page. 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 Facebook and LinkedIn!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Carrie Annand news or other ideas to post on LinkedIn.

Host an Elected Official at Your Facility for Bioenergy Day - Oct. 18

Wednesday, October 18, marks the day for the Fifth Annual Bioenergy Day. Consider inviting an elected official to tour your facility on Bioenergy Day. Whether it's your town's mayor, a state official, a member of Congress, Senator or Governor, Bioenergy Day is the perfect opportunity to introduce government officials to the pellet industry and its many environmental and economic benefits. bioenergy.

This year, we are highlighting the economic benefits of bioenergy. The presence of bioenergy in a community creates jobs, enhances revenue and forest products markets, and reduces waste. Our video on bioenergy, forest products and forestry in Northwestern Montana will illustrate how manufacturers convert leftover fuels into energy. 

There are many ways to contribute to Bioenergy Day 2017. We've uploaded our Participation Guide on the site to help you brainstorm the ways to mark Bioenergy Day, with some best practices and sample materials. You can also look around our website,, to see how other groups have approached Bioenergy Day. 

Contact Carrie Annand with any questions on Bioenergy Day 2017 or to register your organization's event. 

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

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 website for more information. 

Upcoming Industry Events

September 12-14, 2017: Mid Atlantic Biomass Energy Conference & Expo

September 18-20, 2017: Wood Pellet Association of Canada Conference

September 19-21, 2017: 2017 International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion

October 2-4, 2017: International Conference on Biofuels and Bioenergy

October 12-13, 2017: Biomass & Bioenergy Summit

October 18, 2017: Bioenergy Day

Connect with PFI
Join PFI

Fuel Availability

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

Industry News

New Name, New Focus for Canada's Longest-Running Bioenergy Event   
Canadian Biomass

The International Bioenergy Conference and Exhibition is being reborn as the Canadian Bioeconomy Conference and Exhibition.

The new name reflects a growth in the use of woody biomass from legacy industries such as wood pellet production and cogeneration to a full menu of products such as biofuels, biogas, biochemicals, biopharmaceuticals and other bioproducts.

"The original name and mandate were chosen to focus attention on the emerging bioenergy industry in Northern BC and on creating a venue for Canadian wood pellet producers to connect and network with their customers and colleagues in other parts of the world," explained Jim Martin, Chair of the Board of Directors of the conference.
"The bioenergy industry in Canada has grown and matured since we founded the conference in 2004. We felt it was important that, as the leading conference of its kind in Canada, we should reflect the diversification in the use of woody biomass across the full value chain of bioproducts."

North-Central British Columbia continues to be the largest producing region in Canada of wood pellets, and one of the largest in the world. It is home to Pinnacle Renewable Energy, Pacific Bioenergy and Premium Pellets, as well as to some of the longest-operating pulp mill cogeneration facilities in North America and a number of district energy systems.

Read Full Article

Wood Pellet Warehouse Celebrates 10-year Anniversary, Continues to Grow 
Daily Bulldog, Maine

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary just in time for some cooler weather, a local wood pellet distributor is continuing to grow and eye future expansion.

Wood Pellet Warehouse, located on Route 17 in North Jay, opened in 2007 under the stewardship of Steve Barker. A former employee of G.H. Bass until the 2004 shutdown in Wilton and Jay, Barker purchased an old Bass warehouse and opened a redemption center. Three years later, he expanded his business to distribute hard and softwood pellets for wood pellet boilers and stoves. In 2015, the Warehouse began offering bulk pellet delivery throughout the state, under the management of Barker's son, James Barker.

Since 2007, James Barker said, the company has seen its business increase from an initial order of 30 tons to the annual delivery of 6,000 tons of pellets and other products to more than 3,000 customers. Barker said that he expected the company to end the year at 6,500 to 7,000 tons of distributed product.

"Once we get this cold weather, the phone starts ringing off the hook," Barker said.

The Wood Pellet Warehouse employs four, other than the Barkers, and operates out of the North Jay warehouse and a satellite location in Turner. James Barker said that the company intends to open a new location in Winthrop in the next year or two.

Read Full Article

Stung by Setbacks, Wood Suppliers Seek New Markets and Products to Survive 
Portland Press Herald

Making lumber is a bit like peeling a banana. The peels, in this case 16-foot lengths of bark-clad hemlock, are stacked beside a small sawmill here at Treeline Inc., a diversified forestry operation on the access road to Lincoln.

But that waste wood has value. Last fall, Treeline could turn the slabs into chips and truck them an easy 17 miles along the Penobscot River to feed a biomass power plant in West Enfield. Maine lawmakers had recently approved a $13.4 million taxpayer subsidy that allowed a new owner to restart the unprofitable facility.

The subsidy reflected a deep concern about what has happened to Maine's forest products industry, a dominant force in the state's economy for nearly a century. Over the past decade, paper mill closures and shifting markets have diminished the industry to a point where the rural Maine forestry businesses most dependent on pulp and paper - the loggers, truckers, sawmill operators - have been forced to envision a new future.

After some encouraging signs this year, though, they are coping with a number of setbacks. That has led companies such as Treeline to realize they must become more nimble and diversified to survive the downturn and be positioned for new opportunities.

The West Enfield biomass plant is a case in point. Power production has never gotten back to normal. And when the owner had trouble paying suppliers, Treeline stopped regular deliveries. That was February.

Read Full Article 

Pellet Fuels Institute |  [email protected]   | 206.209.5277