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

October 29, 2021

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director's Desk: Summertime Inventory, Residuals Question, Board Meeting

Summertime Inventory Highest Since 2018

Last week the EIA published its July data for the Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel report. The July data confirmed what we’ve suspected for several months regarding summertime inventory as the total surpassed 300,000 tons (304,185). With one exception (2016) July has represented the peak of the inventory build as sales begin to outpace production in August.

Interestingly, this inventory position comes on the heels of a flurry of news items about the anticipated high cost of home heating initially published by the EIA and picked up by news outlets around the country (there is another story from the Hill included in the Industry News section of this week’s Pellet Wire). In the context of high-priced competing fuels, we may very well find ourselves happy to have had such a strong inventory position come February and March; we certainly were during the heating season of 2018–19 as the 373,000 tons we had on the ground in July of 2018 dwindled to just 46,642 tons by February of 2019 (the lowest inventory position on record).

The July data shows that wood pellet sales in 2021 continue to lag. Through July domestic pellet sales are 962,000 tons, well off the 1,136,000 tons from the same time period last year. In fact, the last time we saw sales figures through July in the 960,000 range was 2018. I see a theme developing here.

As always, the season will hinge on the depth and severity of winter, but with high fossil fuel prices I suspect we’ll be grateful we laid in the inventory we did come late February.

Wood Processing Residuals Question

I’ve got an unresolved question about the feedstocks section of the EIA’s Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report I’m hopeful our producer readers can shed some light on. The residuals section of the data set reports feedstocks in four categories (roundwood, sawmill residuals, wood product residuals, other residuals). While the numbers vary slightly from month-to-month the totals in each category typically follow a relatively predictable pattern. However, in 2021 the wood product residuals numbers have departed completely from their expected monthly totals. In 2020 this category showed a monthly average of 390,000 tons with most months within 10,000-15,000 tons of the average. This year, the monthly total has never surpassed 200,000 tons and for the past two months has never been above 100,000 tons. Something doesn’t feel right there. I’ve inquired with the EIA but so far haven’t come up with anything. I’m hoping all you, the survey’s respondents, can shed some light on this strange anomaly. I’m particularly curious because one of our key messages to policymakers hinges on our important role as residuals off-takers. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.

Board Meets Next Week

Our board of directors will gather next week in Austin, Texas to discuss the state of our association and layout goals and a budget for 2022. I’d like to express my gratitude to our board for taking time out of their busy schedules to travel and gather for the good of our collective cause. Our board meetings are always a highlight of my professional year, providing a nice opportunity to everyone to deepen our professional relationships and talk shop.

Tim Portz
Executive Director

Photo of the Week:

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tons…er, words. This image taken during a recent Chairman’s tour at a Fiber By-Products warehouse is emblematic of our sector right now. Producers have built up impressive inventory numbers and a heating season with high fossil fuel prices might very well require this kind of wood pellet inventory if Mother Nature brings her winter “A-game” this year. (Photo: Tim Portz) 

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

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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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Industry News

Enviva, GreenGasUSA announce 10-year RNG offtake aggreement

Enviva Partners LP and GreenGasUSA, an integrated renewable natural gas (RNG) solutions provider, announced on Oct. 20 a 10-year RNG offtake agreement to decarbonize natural gas-related emissions in Enviva’s operations.

Read More

EIA Monthly Densified Biomass Report — July Data

As of July 2021, the monthly data collection included 79 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel.

Read More

Struggling families about to take another hit: Home heating costs projected to soar

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that the cost of home heating for households will increase by 30 percent compared to last year, a level we have not seen since 2014.

Read More

Heating Degree Day data

Heating degree day data weekly summary. 

Accumulations are from July 1, 2021 to October 23, 2021.

Read More

My Turn: Policy needed to help Granite Staters switch to renewable modern wood heat

Granite Staters that heat with fossil fuels are facing a winter of dramatically higher heating costs.

Read More

Pellet Fuels Institute

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