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

May 15, 2020 

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

Executive Director's Notes: Doing What's Necessary 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been amazed—though not surprised—at the inventiveness and flexibility of our members as they have adapted to running a manufacturing facility in the midst of a global pandemic. I’ve outlined in past Pellet Wire the conversation I had with Darren Winchester of Indeck Energy Wood Pellets in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. During a casual “check-in,” I asked Darren if he had made any operational changes to mitigate the risk of coronavirus, sparking a 20-minute dissertation on how to effectively social distance, clean and sanitize at a wood pellet plant. I circulated what Darren shared with me during our call, and our producer-members who hadn’t already devised and deployed similar safeguards were quick to do so. Three months ago, no one had ever uttered or even considered the necessity of the phrase “contact-free fiber delivery,” now it’s become standard operating procedure.

During my conversations with producers, it’s clear that producers have largely adapted to this new normal (a phrase I look forward to excising from my vocabulary) and are busy building inventory for a heating season that, quarantine or no quarantine, will find consumers needing wood pellets to heat their home. For now, it seems that the threat of constricted fiber inventories has been largely mitigated. Some producers have felt a pinch as their upstream partners idled down in April or extended their normal spring planned maintenance outages, but those situations are hardly widespread. During a few conference calls in the past week, I heard plenty of producers report they are running full throttle, bolstering my optimistic notions about how our industry might be able to navigate our current unpleasantness with minimal disruption. I’m hopeful our good fortune continues.

While the operational tweaks our producer-members have made to keep the supply of wood pellets flowing, I’d like to share an operational tweak made by one of our members not connected to wood pellet production. BDL Supply, a diversified manufacturer that makes among other things wood pellets, also operates an industrial sewing operation. Pre-coronavirus, this industrial sewing group manufactured custom packaging items for the automotive sector. As the pandemic accelerated, BDL Supply felt an acute need for masks for their employees across all their operations. Unable to find what they needed, they brought their own sewers into action. “We started out by producing masks for every employee we have, regardless of their business unit,” said PFI Board Member and BDL Supply employee Billy Hoskins. It didn’t take long for additional requests to start flowing in. “Our employees and their families all received masks, and then we started offering them to our customers and vendors,” Hoskins continued. Hoskins estimates that BDL Supply sewers have fabricated over 8,000 masks to date. “We were just trying to think out of the box a little bit to protect our people.” Stories like BDL Supply’s buoy us in times of uncertainty and remind us of the industriousness and selflessness that are the foundation of the American spirit.

PFI Annual Conference to Go Virtual
Last week, we notified our members, sponsors and exhibitors that hosting an in-person annual conference this year was no longer viable. In over a decade of conference development and production, that was a first. What made it even more difficult was our conference had some great momentum and we had a great week planned to include baseball. Baseball! That said, it’s the PFI’s turn to pivot, and we look forward to announcing our plans for our virtual event. Expect a fully populated agenda by the end of the month. The industry relies on the PFI to take the sector’s measure and shepherd it through the regulatory and legislative entanglements that present themselves. Fortunately, technology can facilitate that aspect with ease, however, offering Billy Hoskins an “attaboy” and a pat on the back will have to wait.

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

Photo of the Week: 8,000 and Counting

Recognizing a need to protect plant employees, PFI member BDL Supply turned to its own industrial sewing group. To date, BDL Supply has manufactured 8,000 masks, supplying their own employees and their families, as well as a number of vendors and customers. 

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].

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 TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!
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Have News to Share on 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.  

Industry News

Changing pellet boiler standards would benefit Canadians (Canadian Biomass Magazine)

In September 2017, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into force. Canadians were told that CETA would eliminate barriers to trade and that there would be mutual recognition of Canadian and European technical standards.
Read Full Article

Canadian Wood Fiber: Availability and Impacts (Biomass Magazine)

Canadian pellet producers continue to struggle with fiber availability and quality as a result of sawmill curtailments in British Columbia.
Read Full Article

5 secrets to make you a pellet grill master ( 

Much like the rest of the world, you might find yourself cooking at home a lot more than you used to. Whether you’re staying home to avoid the pandemic or you are just ready to usher in spring and summer weather, you’ll want to learn how to make proper, delicious meals. 
Read Full Article 

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More Industry News

Each step in the forest sector supply chain is depending on the other (Seattle Times):

Orange juice cartons. Toilet paper. Electricity. Coffee cups. Lumber. The one thing all these things have in common? Trees. 

Read Full Article

Wood Pellet Data: Crunching the Numbers (Biomass Magazine)

U.S. wood pellet producers experienced a warmer than average winter, alleviating concerns of dwindling wood pellet inventory and potential shortages after coming off the 2018-’19 heating season. 

Read Full Article

Yes, We Can! Women in the Hearth Industry (Hearth & Home Magazine):

Were you to survey the hearth industry and ask whether hearth is a male dominated industry, the likely answer would be "yes, it is." We put this question, along with many others, to professional women in hearth and discovered "it's complicated."

Read Full Article

Loggers, truckers uncertain about future after Jay Mill explosion (Sun Journal):

Many loggers and truckers around Maine who send their pulpwood to the Androscoggin Mill in Jay are uncertain what the future holds for them. There are a lot of indirect businesses that will also feel the squeeze.

Read Full Article

EPA delivers proposal to amend wood heater regulations to OMB (Biomass Magazine):

The U.S. EPA on April 30 delivered a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that amends standards of performance for new residential wood heaters, new residential hydronic heaters, and forced-air furnaces.

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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