Pinnacle: Operations not impacted by COVID-19

By Erin Voegele | March 24, 2020

Canada-based pellet producer Pinnacle Renewable Energy issued a statement on March 19 announcing the operations of its facilities have not been impacted by COVID-19. Pinnacle CEO Rob McCurdy, however, is delaying his planned retirement.

Pinnacle said the company is working to minimize the risks of COVID-19 to its employees, stakeholders and communities in which it operates. As of March 19, Pinnacle said no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 had been reported at the company.

Pinnacle employees are implementing recommended COVID-19 practices, including social distancing, hand washing, ad regular cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces. The company said these practices have also been enforced for fiber deliveries and other visitors. Office-based employees are working from home.

Demand for its pellets is not expected to be impacted by COVID-19, Pinnacle said, noting the company has long-term take or pay contracts in place with its customers. In the event power consumption declines, Pinnacle said it expects the use of other non-renewable fuels will be reduced before any reduction in wood pellet use. In the event a recession reduces demand for lumber, and thereby the supply of sawmill residues, Pinnacle said it has a plan in place. The company said it will use harvest residuals and increased inventories that it has been utilizing as a result of sawmill curtailments in British Columbia.

McCurdy was previously scheduled to retire effective May 5. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, he has committed to remain with Pinnacle through the end of October 2020.

Pinnacle currently operates eight wood pellet facilities in western Canada and one in the U.S. In addition, the company is developing new pellet plants in High Level, Alberta and Demopolis, Alabama. The company said development of the High Level and Demopolis plants is continuing under the expected precautions for COVID-19. Pinnacle announced plans to build the High Level facility in July 2019. Once complete, the facility is expected to produce up to 200,000 metric tons of wood pellets annually. Construction of the plant began last year and is expected to continue progressing this spring. Pinnacle announced plans to build the 360,000-metric-ton-per-year pellet plan in Demopolis in December 2019. That facility is expected to become operational in early 2021.