Maine wood pellet facility to start up in 2009

By Bryan Sims
Web exclusive posted Dec. 12, 2008 at 11:19 a.m. CST

Geneva Wood Fuels announced that its Strong Maine Wood Pellet facility in Strong, Maine, is on target to begin start-up operations in the first quarter of 2009. The company plans to produce wood pellets for the home-heating market under the brand name Maine's Choice.

Geneva's state-of-the art facility will revitalize the timber community in and around Strong, an area that has long been associated with forest products.

In addition, Geneva Wood Fuels has appointed Foxborough, Mass.-based International Forest Products as its exclusive sales outlet for its Maine's Choice product. Founded in 1972, International Forest Products is a member of the Kraft Group of companies and is one of the largest traders of forest products commodities in the world.

Geneva Wood Fuels' wood pellets will be packaged in 40-pound bags and sold to a host of domestic distribution outlets in the Northeast and possibly Pennsylvania exclusively for the home-heating marketing, said International Forest Products President of Solid Products Peter Keyes.

Keyes said there has been a strong demand for wood pellets in the Northeast due to the explosive growth of wood pellet stove sales that increased 500 percent from 2007 to 2008.

"We're trying to capture that market where people buy the stoves and then buy the wood pellets for them," Keyes said. "That's where this product is going to serve. We think the growth curve for this product is very strong."

Although the wood pellets will be targeted to the home-heating market initially, Keyes said that the wood pellets could become available to the biofuels market as a viable cellulosic-type feedstock.

"It's able to serve a bulk market as well," he said. "It hasn't cornered itself in one area, but it has processed itself into one market thus far and that's what we're concentrating on right now."