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

August 19, 2021 

In this Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director's Desk: 

A Look at May Data

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration published its May data for the Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report. The May numbers confirm that the industry will enter the 2021-22 with the strongest inventory position since the 2019-20 heating season. As the month ended, total inventory in the U.S. was just below 280,000 tons, nearly 100,000 tons more than the two years prior at the same point in the calendar. My earlier prediction of the sector having 300,000 tons on the ground at the high-water mark in July seems likely as the inventory build historically slows greatly in June before the long drawdown begins in July.

Total sales came in at a strong 132,000 tons, just short of last year’s best ever May (142,761). The average price per ton in the West jumped off the page, eclipsing $200/ton, a first in the report’s history.

I’m struggling to understand what is happening with regard to residual purchases as the numbers from “wood product manufacturing residuals” are well off their historical averages. Last year, the industry averaged nearly 400,000 tons per month and this year the report shows the sector has never exceeded 200,000 tons per month. May showed just 102,000 tons of residuals purchased. With everything we’ve been hearing about the boom in building materials, this number is hard to square up. Obscuring the feedstock picture even further, the administration withheld the “other” feedstock data to protect individual respondents. I’ll reach out to our friend Connor Murphy at the EIA to see if I can’t get some clarifying explanations on both fronts. 

Kudos to Team Lignetics – Mifflintown

When putting together the industry news section of this edition of Pellet Wire I came across the story of U.S. Representative Fred Keller visiting Lignetics – Mifflintown. At our annual conference we discussed the importance of getting our elected policy makers inside of our facilities. While straightforward enough for all of us, pellet manufacturing and role we play in adding value to residual fiber streams is foreign to most policymakers. My thanks to the Lignetics team for making the effort to get Representative Keller into the plant for a look around.

In Memoriam

Early last week longtime member and friend Bruce Lisle reached out to me with the news that Katie Ewald, co-founder of the Vermont Wood Pellet Company, has passed away. Katie’s time in the industry and mine did not overlap for very long and I didn’t know Katie personally. If the mark of a life well-lived is to be remembered fondly, then Katie’s life was certainly well lived. Bruce’s note to me was a mixture of shock at her sudden passing, the swift passage of time and the recognition that our industry does often feel very much like an extended family. Above all, it was a fond remembrance. My condolences go out to Katie’s friends and family, within our industry and otherwise.

In Memoriam: Chris Brooks and Kathryn “Katie” Ewald during the early days of the development of Vermont Wood Pellets. (photo shared by Bruce Lisle). 

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

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Industry News

In Memoriam: Obituary for Kathryn "Katie" Ewald (Vermont Wood Pellet Company)

Kathryn "Katie" Ewald passed peacefully on July 31, 2021, with her family by her side. She was born on June 3, 1957, and grew up in Garden City, N.Y. and Charlottesville, Va. She was the daughter of the late John A. Ewald and Jane "Kitchie" Tolleson.

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EIA: Densified biomass fuel sales reach 690,000 tons in April

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released data showing U.S. manufacturers produced approximately 770,000 tons of densified biomass fuel in April, with sales reaching 690,000 tons.

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Representative Fred Keller visits Lignetics – Mifflintown

MIFFLINTOWN — In an effort to better advocate for local industry, Rep. Fred Keller, R-Selinsgrove, on Thursday toured Juniata County wood pellet processing plant, Lignetics Group, and discussed ongoing challenges the facility faces.

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May 2021 Data Release by the Energy Information Administration

As of May 2021, the monthly data collection included 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel. These manufacturers had a total production capacity of 12.95 million tons per year and collectively had an equivalent of 2,334 full-time employees.

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Pellet Fuels Institute

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