Pellet producers group first to start standards program

By Luke Geiver | October 25, 2012

A new era in the wood pellets industry is about to begin thanks to three pellet fuel producers in the U.S. American Wood Fibers, with pellet mills in Virginia and Ohio, Curran Renewable Energy, with a mill in New York and Marth Wood Shavings & Supply, with two mills in Wisconsin, have all entered into an agreement that will allow each mill to certify their product through a third-party verification system. The announcement is a first for the industry, as the three mills will officially partake in a testing protocol and standards verification process developed by the Pellet Fuels Institute and the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC).

Timber Products Inspection will perform the third-party testing and inspection services for each mill. The mills will setup in-house labs to test for certain fuel parameters such as ash content or fuel density, and on scheduled intervals, TPI will perform continued compliance check-ups. After testing is verified, all participating mills will have the option of labeling each bag of pellets with a quality sticker developed by PFI to indicate which grade of fuel is in each bag, including premium, standard or utility.

“I know how important it is for consumers and our partners who sell to them to have confidence in what they are buying,” according to TJ Morice, vice president of marketing and operations for Marth Wood Shavings & Supply. “If the bag says premium there should be a quality and control process like we and others are committing too in this process so the user is confident and every bag labeled with premium would be confirmed as such.” Morice also believes that increasing consumer confidence in fuel quality could help expand the use of pellet fuel in homes and businesses.

Companies like TPI that can perform compliance and testing audits must be certified by ALSC before they can perform quality testing audits for pellet producers. The pellets standards program has been a high priority for PFI recently, partly in response to the U.S. EPA’s call for the implementation of New Source Performance Standards for residential wood heaters.

For more on pellet standards.