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

May 24, 2019 

In This Week's Pellet Wire:


Executive Director's Notes: Seats Available for the Halifax Tour; Social Media; Letter to Sen Klobuchar Room Block. 

Seats Available for the Hearth & Home Technologies – Halifax Tour

In two weeks, the 2019 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference will be over. In a conference call with the conference committee last week we were working through some of the conference statistics and I was surprised to hear that the tour of the Hearth & Home Technologies Halifax fabrication facility still had some open seats. When board member John Shimek generously offered a tour of that facility, I was certain we’d end up disappointing some attendees when the tour sold out. The good news is we haven’t had to turn anyone away. We’ve got a nice sized group signed up for the tour and perhaps we’re struggling to fill our bus because people want to get home on the Friday of a summer weekend. I can certainly understand that. I did take a call last week from someone concerned about their flight out of Harrisburg and being confident they would make my flight. I’ll offer this thought, I have a 2:20 flight out of Harrisburg on Friday and I’m in charge of staying on schedule. I don’t intend to miss my own flight. Give the HHT tour another look if you’ll be joining us in Hershey. You won’t regret it.

A Thought on the Grassroots Nature of Today’s Media Environment

The Pellet Fuels Institute continues to spend time and resources thinking about and executing plans to get Joe and Jane Consumer thinking about wood pellets as a heating solution for their homes, businesses and farms. Last fall we launched a social media beta test in six markets to test the efficacy of Facebook and Instagram in moving consumers towards action. Last week I came across a YouTube video that I found simultaneously exciting and incredibly humbling. I suppose it’s accurate to say the video is an amateur production produced by a what would now be called a YouTuber, a person who makes their living producing videos for consumption on YouTube. This YouTuber goes by jettlash1000 and is responsible for dozens if not hundreds of other videos on YouTube. A quick perusal of his YouTube channel indicates that most of his videos are dedicated to product reviews. Other reviews he’s produced include 3D printers, hoverboards, and car battery chargers. His pellet stove video is all at once authentic, informative and unbiased. I suspect that upon watching you, like me, will hold your breath while waiting for his final conclusions. What is most compelling to me is the reach that jettlash1000’s video has achieved. As of this writing, his pellet video has garnered over 250,000 views. Compare this to the 2,000 views that a very good pellet heating video by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada produced a year ago. Our challenge is to figure out how to leverage the content that exists and has some momentum.

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My Letter to Senator Amy Klobuchar

In the latest edition of Pellet Wire, I shared an update on the reintroduction of the BTU Act and promised a fact sheet and letter template would be posted on the PFI website. I also committed to putting those tools to work myself and contact my elected representatives. Included below is the letter I sent to Senator Amy Klobuchar. In the letter, I tried to contrast the BTU Act with the Green New Deal, the lightning-rod policy package that recently created a bit of a media firestorm. My hope is that Senator Klobuchar will see the BTU Act for the relatively straightforward policy fix that it is.

The full text of my letter is as follows:

Senator Klobuchar,

I’m writing today as a constituent, a decade-long member of the biomass industry and as the Executive Director of the Pellet Fuels Institute. It is my hope that you will co-sponsor S. 628, the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act of 2019 (BTU Act) as the bill aligns with your track record of supporting renewable energy.

Co-sponsored in the Senate by Susan Collins, Angus King, and Jeanne Shaheen, the BTU Act extends to high efficiency, clean wood heating systems the investment tax credits that currently exist for every other renewable energy technology. Legislation similar to S.628 has been introduced every session of Congress since 2009 in an effort to address this omission from the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which codified investment tax credits for renewable energy technologies under sections 25D and 48 of the IRS Code.

Specifically, the BTU Act provides for a 30% investment credit against the installed capital cost for residential installations (IRC section 25D), and a 15% or 30% credit against the installed capital cost for business installations, depending on the level of efficiency met by the system (IRC section 48).

Federal renewable energy investment tax credits expired at the end of 2016, but certain solar and wind credits were renewed in 2017. There will be a vigorous debate about whether or to what extent to reauthorize these credits during the 116th Congress. For biomass thermal to get just consideration, we must demonstrate strong support for the BTU Act.

I watched with keen interest as you offered your support for the Green New Deal, an ambitious moon-shot bouquet of policy concepts that clearly need some more vetting and serious thought. The BTU Act stands in stark contrast to the Green New Deal. The BTU Act is not a sweeping reimagining of our energy grid or how our economy is powered. Instead, the BTU Act seeks to extend the tax provisions already afforded to other renewables to biomass heating technologies. As a Minnesotan, you are well aware of the opportunity for this state in biomass-derived energy given the state’s vast forest and agricultural resources. While the BTU Act will not instantaneously unlock all these opportunities, it is a commonsense policy fix that has been well vetted that will keep the industry moving in a positive direction.

I ask your support for this legislation that would be good for Minnesota. Your staff may contact Morgan Cashwell in Senator King’s office for additional information, at [email protected] or 202-224-5344. Thank you for your consideration.

Tim Portz 
Executive Director

Send us Photos! 

 Photo of the Week


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 from the 2018 PFI Annual Conference shows Energex’s Adam Becker and Tim Portz entertaining the crowd at the reception.

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Industry News

Traeger's wood pellet grill so good it hurts (CNET):

An electric grill that burns wood for heat, the Timberline adds phenomenal flavor to everything it cooks, whether it's chicken, burgers, fish, ribs or huge slabs of pork and beef. We've had one at the CNET Smart Home since we reviewed it last year, and I cook on during the workday whenever I get a chance. Everything I've asked this grill to handle it brought to new heights. Seriously, words can't do this grill justice when it comes to the results.

You might think that fact would make me happy. Alas, it certainly does not. Here's why ...

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Wood pellets plant creates new markets for Mississippi timber (Jackson Clarion Ledger, MS)

Behind poultry, forestry remains the state’s No. 2 agricultural commodity. When final figures were tallied in early 2019, the numbers were closer to the $1.3 billion the industry generated in 2017.

What does Enviva have to do with Mississippi’s strong timber industry? Plenty, it seems ...

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Switch to wood pellets in a minute with the Pella grill adapter (Gadget Flow): 

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Pellet Fuels Institute

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