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

October 18, 2019 

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

Executive Director's Notes: October 18, 2019

If you had 5 minutes to speak to a Senator or member of Congress, educate them about the wood pellet industry and advocate for their support on a piece of federal policy, what would you say? This is the question facing the Pellet Fuels Institute as we look towards our fall board meeting and fly-in during the last week of this month.

Although our scheduled visits are longer than 5 minutes, the reality is that we must be prepared to deliver a message that covers our main points in 5 minutes or less. You all observe the same Washington D.C. that I do and it’s difficult to imagine that we’ll successfully wrangle anyone’s attention for more than a few moments.

Operating under this notion really does sharpen the thinking and forces a strict focus on aspects of our business that will resonate with everyone we talk to, regardless of party affiliation. As I work on our talking points and think about what I would say if I only had 5 minutes, I keep coming back to “the wood pellet sector is a critical component of the broader forest products industry, adding tangible and measurable data to the residues from upstream manufacturers”. You saw the numbers in the October 4 edition of Pellet Wire. In 2018 the wood pellet industry spent over $360 million for sawdust, chips and other residuals produced at other manufacturing sites. Tethering our value to the broader forest products segment helps to give our industry some scale in a big way. The forest products sector is a difference-maker in the American economy. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, the forest products sector accounts for 4% of the country’s GDP churning out nearly $300 billion of products annually. Now THAT is an industry that is hard to ignore! Everyone who participates within the sector plays a vital role, including the manufacturers of wood pellets.

Another aspect of our sector that deserves top billing is the rural nature of our production facilities and our end users. Jobs in rural America are on the decline and there is widespread agreement that if this trend cannot be reversed, the jobs that remain need to be preserved. Our industry puts people to work in places like Ladysmith, Wisconsin; Mifflintown, Pennsylvania; Strong, Maine; Brownsville, Oregon and the list goes on. More importantly, our product offers rural people who aren’t connected to currently cheap natural gas a low-cost heat source and a ready competitor to help hedge against spikes in heating oil and propane.

Finally, our product contributes significant revenues to the retailers who stock and sell wood pellets. Our fly-in roster includes two specialty hearth retailer board members for whom wood pellets and the appliances that burn them figure largely into their small business operations, putting even more rural people to work.

So what do we want? Quite simply, we’re headed to D.C. to ask federal policymakers to once and for all treat the wood pellet sector and the renewable thermal energy sector the same way that other renewable industries are treated. Federal policy including investment tax credits for wind and solar electric power generation boosts and incentivizes investment in these sectors. We’d like to see consumer investment in renewable space heating treated in the same way. The bills have been written and we’re simply there to ask that once and for all they finally receive the attention and action of our elected representatives.

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

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Industry News

New state pollution permit allows a wood pellet plant to expand in NC (Raleigh News & Observer):

The state Division of Air Quality has approved a permit that will reduce several types of pollutants from Enviva’s wood pellet mill in Sampson County even as it allows the plant to expand production by 22 percent.

Read Full Article

California man sues Traeger over pellet quality (

A California man filed a class-action lawsuit against a Utah grilling company last week, accusing it of selling watered-down pellets that don’t match the quality it promises.

Read Full Article

 Wood pellet heat proves smart cost-saving move for Northport school (The Monroe Monitor, Washington): 

When Don Baribault, superintendent of the Northport School District in Stevens County, discovered one wintry day in 2017 that the elementary school’s aging heating system was failing, he needed a new solution that would be reliable, long lasting and not break the bank. The Department of Commerce, and others, stepped up to help keep the heat on.

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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