While stories are getting around northern New England about a shortage of bagged wood pellets at home supply stores, homeowners who get bulk pellet delivery through the Model Neighborhood Project are not experiencing any supply problems.
Everyone can sympathize with the folks who are unable to get the pellets they need for conventional pellet stoves, but since the Northern Forest Center promotes the use of highly efficient, automated wood pellet boilers, we want to make it clear to the homeowners we work with and others considering switching from oil to wood pellets that they don’t need to worry about staying warm!
There are a few explanations for why availability is different for bulk and bagged pellets. Bulk delivery companies can place more precise orders for their winter pellet supply because they know who most of their customers will be. They are able to give pellet manufacturers plenty of lead time and fairly accurate quantities for their orders. Stores, on the other hand, buy bagged pellets like any other product, with only rough estimates of demand. In a harsh winter, they can easily run short of pellets—just as they can run out of snowblowers or shovels.
Pellet demand has been growing, and so has manufacturing capacity. Charlie Niebling, a consultant to New England Wood Pellet reported that the company expanded from one plant to three in the last few years. High demand may motivate other companies to expand, or new mills to open, in the coming years.
We see that growth as good news. Wood pellets are a renewable fuel made from a local resource. We’re helping people switch from oil to wood pellets because the money spent on wood pellets stays in the Northern Forest economy, unlike spending on oil, which sends 78 cents of every dollar out of the region. Also, greater demand for wood pellets means stronger job prospects in the industry.
The bulk delivery business model is working. Pellet manufacturers are meeting the demand from the companies that deliver bulk pellets (these are fed into a storage bin or silo until needed, much like the oil truck directly fills an oil tank). Households, small businesses and schools heating with centralized, automated wood pellet boilers can expect a secure supply of pellets to heat their homes and hot water throughout the year. For people using pellets by the bag, industry experts say your best bet is to plan ahead so pellet manufacturers can meet your needs.
For more information on our Model Neighborhood Project, visit our website here.
P.S. Proof! Bulk Delivery Truck filling silos at Lyndonville, VT on February 26th, 2014.