November 30, 2018 

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director’s Desk – NSPS Rule Published, No Decision on Key Pellet Fuel Component

Last Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published guidance on a few long-awaited amendments to the 2015 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). Actually, the agency published a proposed rule on a sell-through provision for hydronic heaters and forced air furnaces and then issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in which the EPA is asking for comment on a handful of other matters including minimum pellet fuel requirements and whether or not they should be included in the rule at all.

To recap, the NSPS was an effort by the EPA to ratchet down the permissible emissions limits for wood heating appliances. Essentially, the NSPS would make it illegal to sell heating appliances that did not meet certain a certain emission threshold. That magic number is < 2 grams of particulate matter/hour. Any appliance not meeting that number could not be sold after May 15, 2020. The good news is that, when compared to other wood heat technologies, pellet appliances have very impressive emissions profiles. In fact, when the rule was first published the EPA estimated that 70% of the pellet appliances available in the marketplace were already underneath the 2.0 g/hr mark. Still, there are pellet appliances commercially available, presumably in specialty hearth retailer showrooms and storerooms right now, that would have to be sold in 17 months. Another interesting factoid from the documents says this about this issue: “Compounding their concerns, by some estimates, there are 100,000 or more wood and pellet heaters in showrooms across the country that must be sold by May 15th, 2020. Based on these estimates, this could represent an entire year of industry sales. This does not include inventory held by distributors.”

These are the concerns that led the manufacturers of hydronic heaters and forced air furnaces to ask for a two-year sell-through period and it looks like they will have that opportunity. For now, it does not look like non-compliant wood pellet appliances will be treated in the same way. That is disappointing, and we’ll be working in the coming weeks to craft our comments. If you are reading this and are impacted by a lack of a sell-through provision for pellet appliances, I urge you to reach out to me. The most powerful comments in the documents already published are from hearth retailers and appliance manufacturers. Now is our opportunity to gather this critical feedback and ensure it gets included in the comments the EPA will have to review.

Of probably more interest to our membership and our organization would be the minimum pellet fuel requirements currently included in the rule. In this regard, the recent announcements offered neither final relief nor decision. Instead, the EPA is seeking further comments on three options. First, the minimum standards remain in place as they are. Second, the standard is revised but remains in place, or the third option is to eliminate the standard from the rule altogether. Our position will remain the same: that pellet fuel standards are a vital part of the appliance/fuel/user relationship and they ought not to be included in a piece of federal regulation. Federal regulations are very difficult to amend (the current situation makes that clear) and the EPA’s first effort at a minimum standard highlighted the difficulty for regulatory agencies to author airtight standards.

I encourage you all to review the materials available at the EPA website. Our executive team will be meeting as this edition of Pellet Wire is distributed to begin to discuss our organization’s response. Watch for more information in future Pellet Wires or on the PFI website.

- Tim Portz
Executive Director

Social Media Beta Test FAQs

There’s still some time to reserve your spot in the PFI Social Media Beta Test! Please be in touch with Tim via email at [email protected] as soon as possible if you’re interested in signing up or learning more. 

What we're hoping to learn:

The program is being developed to efficiently enable the PFI to test a small number of pro-pellet messages with actual consumers across the pellet-using geographies of the United States. Social media advertising enables us to test messages and identify audiences that are receptive to pellet fuels while promoting pellets. Messages that encourage consumers to further explore wood pellets as a home-heating option may include but are not limited to:

  • The economic advantage of wood pellets over other fuel options
  • The ambiance of a cozy wood fire without a fireplace
  • Ease of use of a pellet appliance; no need to haul logs
  • Heat Local. Using wood pellets for home-heat helps the local economy.
  • Wood pellets are an environmentally preferable, low-carbon, renewable home heat option.
  • Wood pellets play an important role in sustainable forest management.

 1. What is the ultimate goal of the sponsored content?

Sponsored content will target social media users who may not be aware of wood pellets for home heat. Whereas a business can create posts that its followers will see, and boost the post beyond that audience to some extent, sponsored content will identify potentially receptive new audiences and target them multiple times. Sponsored content also enables us to test our ads and messages, and monitor stats like how many times our content is being seen or attracts engagement. In a recent test with a retailer in Pennsylvania, we were able to reach 30,000 Facebook and Instagram users an average of 2.5 times each.

 2. I've heard there is a cost to post sponsored content on both Facebook and Instagram. Does the cost of the program cover these expenses?

Yes. The cost of the program covers both a monthly ad budget of $100 for a four-month campaign and the cost of implementing the program. The cost for the full four-month beta test is $1500; the pellet fuels manufacturer and retailer are welcome to split that cost in any way.

3. Will my brand have a presence on any of the sponsored ads?

This campaign is designed to raise awareness of pellet heating among receptive consumers and to send them to a knowledgeable local expert who can guide them through the purchase of a pellet appliance. During this beta test, we will be featuring the logos and websites of the featured local hearth and patio retailer wherever possible. We encourage pellet fuels manufacturers who are sponsoring retailers to work with those retailers to highlight your brand at the point of sale as a preferred or recommended pellet fuels manufacturer.

4.  Why do I need to involve a specialty hearth retailer? Why can't I just promote my brand with this beta test?

To create a new pellet fuels customer, that customer must first own a pellet appliance. With this campaign, we are seeking to introduce fresh, new consumers to the benefits of pellet heating. Hearth and patio retailers are on the front lines of selling appliances, so we want to a) introduce the concept of pellet heating to consumers and b) send them to someone who can advise them on installation.

 5.  What images will be used in the sponsored posts?

We welcome all images of pellet fuels appliances and are happy to use photos supplied by the retailer. Our preference is for retailers to supply promotional photos of the products that they sell from the manufacturer. If promotional photos are unavailable, we will choose from the images that we've already collected. It's important that we feature photos of pellet appliances in an array of home environments so that viewers will be able to picture an appliance in their home.

6.  My retail partner already uses both Facebook and Instagram for their business. Can they keep up with their other social media efforts while the PFI campaign is underway?

Absolutely. We enthusiastically encourage regular Facebook and Instagram activity during the campaign—both for pellet appliances and for other merchandise the retailer may carry. The more visibility, the better. We also plan to work with each retailer's social media manager to re-post some of our ad content during the campaign.

 7.  My retailer would like to use this opportunity to highlight special offers for wood pellets and pellet appliances. Is this program flexible enough to allow for that?

Certainly. We urge each retailer to provide us with a special offer for pellet appliances that we can feature in our ads. We can feature a new offer each month, or keep up the same offer throughout the season.

 8.  What kind of information will I and my retail partner be able to see during the test?

We will share monthly reports that show the key stats of the campaign—including audience reach, clicks, post engagement (likes or scrolling through a slideshow, for instance), and more data.

 9.  How will we measure success for the program?

Our ultimate goal is to promote the sales of pellet appliances, making progress toward Operation 100K. We'll measure success in several ways—the number of people reached, engagement with our ads, and retailer leads. If we are able to replicate our initial test from this summer in each of the selected markets, we will reach 250,000 or more social media users. We will also ask our retailers to keep track of how many leads they get from Facebook or Instagram and to report these numbers.

*The social media beta program is open to manufacturer members only. 

Photo of the Week - Fiber By-Products

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 is from Cory Schrock with Fiber By-Products. An oldie but goodie! 

Follow PFI on Twitter, Friend Us on Facebook, and Connect with Us on LinkedIn 

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 LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Carrie Annand via email at [email protected] news or other ideas to post on LinkedIn.

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 via email 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

March 14 - 16, 2019: HPBA Expo 2019

June 4 - 6, 2019: 2019 PFI Annual Conference 

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.

Thanks for Your Continued Support of PFI! 

Not a member yet? Learn more about how PFI can work for you and join today! If you think you are getting this message in error, please contact the PFI Office at [email protected].

Industry News

Beetle-Killed Timber Presents Business Opportunities Across the Colorado Rockies 
Steamboat Pilot & Today, Colorado

The mountain pine beetle has devastated one-fifth of Colorado forestland over the past couple of decades, but the lumber and alternative energy industries have been able to make good use of the wood from these blighted forests.

Routt, Eagle, Grand and Summit counties were among the hardest hit, with thousands of acres of forest wiped out. The Colorado State Forest Service estimates the mountain pine beetle epidemic killed 3.4 million acres of forest across the state. That's about 800 million dead trees that are potential fuel for the next wildfire.

"These dead trees have provided a large supply of available timber that these local mills utilized to sustain their industry that typically would have come from green, or live, trees until this epidemic came through," Granby District forester Ryan McNertney said.

The Colorado Forest Service estimates one-third of Colorado's roughly 100 sawmills use beetle-killed trees for wood products. The lumber takes on a blue stain caused by a fungus and is used in a variety of wood products, such as furniture, flooring, house frames, fencing material and as fuel for wood-burning stoves.

Read Full Article

Turning Smoke and Slash into Pellets and Cash 
Rocky Mountain Goat, Canada

Massive piles of leftover wood in the McBride Community Forest will be turned into heat and electricity in Europe and Asia, according to Don Steele, chief executive officer of Pacific Bioenergy.

That’s good news for the community forest, as it hasn’t been able to burn its slash piles in over three years due to air quality constraints.

Vancouver-based Pacific Bioenergy has now secured funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to grind, ship and sell the waste wood as a part of an experiment to determine how they can incorporate cedar into their fuel.

The company has been turning waste wood into pellets for 25 years. It has a pellet plant in Prince George, Chetwynd and Fort St. John and and a wood waste partnership in Quesnel. The pellets are largely shipped overseas.

“Our customers are power utilities and heating utilities in Europe and Asia; we ship pellets around the world to replace coal,” said Steele.

Steele said their wood pellets are preferable to coal, which is a fossil fuel and contributes to global warming.

Read Full Article

Futuremetrics Paper Shows Benefits of Coal-to-pellet Conversion 
Biomass Magazine

Read Full Article

Pellet Fuels Institute

[email protected] | (206) 209-5277 |