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

February 5, 2021 

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director's Desk: Eyeing a Record Year

Last week the EIA updated the Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report, bringing the data current through October, and while the margin between first and second place is thin, 2020 is currently on pace to be the industry’s biggest sales year in the report’s history.

The year’s full story will not be known broadly until mid-March when the publication of December data rounds out the full picture of the year. Through October, 2020 is outstripping 2019 by about 20,000 tons.

To top 2019, the industry will have had to move just over 400,000 tons in the final two months of the year. I’ll stop short of calling that a tap-in putt, but since the report was launched the lowest November/December sales total was actually last year with sales coming in at 421,000 tons.

Still, I think 2020 may close out with softer sales numbers because of a trend I started commenting on earlier this summer; strong summertime sales. Compared to 2016, wood pellet sales this summer (June-August) are up 50%. The message of “buy early” seems to have finally gained some traction and I suspect those consumers that laid in a good supply of pellets this summer found themselves with a comfortable amount remaining as the year closed out and may have put off an additional purchase in November and December, particularly in those areas where winter took its time in getting going. That is an odd sentence to write considering the one-two punch of massive winter storms the Northeast is currently experiencing. This week and next will certainly find pellet appliances in that region running at full throttle.

No matter what the November-December numbers report, it feels like 2021 will mark the end of a market that fluctuated for years between 1.8 and 2.2 million. There have just been too many positive developments on the demand side of the equation. The challenge for the sector generally — and producers specifically — is how best to capture this growth opportunity and ensure fuel availability for all consumers, for however they intend to use them. I think that story will dominate the next three years. 

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

BTU Act Information Page Under Development

In past iterations of the Pellet Wire I’ve espoused the notion that the Pellet Fuels Institute must position itself as, at the very least, a place where consumers looking for answers to their questions about the tax credit available for qualifying pellet appliances can turn. Certainly, we’ve got ambitions beyond simply answering questions, but first things first. I’m pleased to report that by the time the next Pellet Wire lands in your inbox, a webpage dedicated to answering consumer questions about the BTU Act, which pellet appliances are eligible, and how to claim the tax credit will be live. 

Welcome New Member Frank Pellets

Two weeks ago Jim Frank made my day when he let me know that in 2021 Frank Pellets would accept our invitation to join the Pellet Fuels Institute. Without question, welcoming new members into our organization is one of my favorite roles as Executive Director. 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but in addition to all of the curveballs the year threw at us Frank Pellets had to manage a wildfire in their area of operation. The plant experienced a brief outage as a result of the fires but is back up and running. Thanks, Jim, for your trust in the Pellet Fuels Institute, and welcome to our organization. 

2021 Pellet Fuels Annual Conference

We’re all hopeful that the rate of vaccinations gains momentum, and our country finds itself sounding the “all clear” sooner rather than later. For now, we’re planning to gather in Louisville on June 9-12 as planned. Managing conference uncertainty isn’t any fun for anyone and is an exercise that feels an awful lot like reading tea leaves. I can assure you, both conference committee chair (and current PFI chair) Kenny Lisle and I look forward to planning our annual conference outside of the confines of a global pandemic. For now, we’re planning on it being safe to gather and rekindle those important face-to-face interactions that are so important to our organization.

Photo of the Week

Welcome Frank Pellets: This photograph featuring (Left to Right) Tim Portz, Stan Elliot, Robin Derrick (sales), and Jim Frank was taken in 2019 at the Frank Pellets facility near Mill City, Oregon. Frank Pellets utilizes the residues from its own sawmilling operation, producing a 100% Douglas Fir wood pellet. 

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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Share Your Company's News in Pellet Wire

We'd love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! Let us be the first to know about your company's recent developments, and we will share them with the broader pellet fuels industry.

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. 

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 Committee Page for more information.

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Fuel Availability

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Industry News

Oregon-based Frank Pellets joins PFI

Frank Pellets, a pellet manufacturer located in Mill City, Oregon, has become the Pellet Fuels Institute’s newest fuel manufacturer member.

“We are thrilled to have the Frank Pellets team join our organization,” said Tim Portz, executive director of the PFI. “Jim Frank and his team have built an impressive operation that complements their lumber business perfectly and we are excited to welcome them aboard.”

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Vilsack: Biofuels, bioenergy can help meet climate goals

Secretary of agriculture nominee Tom Vilsack stressed the important role biofuels and bioenergy will play in meeting the Biden administration’s climate goals during a Feb. 2 hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

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2021: Major Changes to the Japanese Biomass Market

While Japanese biomass demand continued strong growth in 2020, upcoming policy changes will impact trade flows, supply and demand. Hawkins Wright estimates Japanese wood pellet demand was 1.8 million metric tons (MT) in 2020, up 20% on the year with little sign of slowing. 

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Pellet Fuels Institute

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