Saturday, December 4, 2010


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The Wall St Journal reported yesterday that due to low inventories of diesel fuel in China (only 16 days compared to 36 days of inventory 6 months ago,) we should see a sustained rise in the price of oil. The Chinese will build up their reserves of diesel, putting upward pressure on the price of crude oil. Morgan Stanley is predicting a rise back to the $100/barrel level not seen since 2008. $100 crude oil means very expensive heating oil and propane, it's trading in the mid to high $80's today, up 6.7% just last week. We could be heading back toward another very bullish market for wood pellets over the next 12 months.

Posted: 11/09/2010 11:01:07 PM EST

Tuesday November 9, 2010
BENNINGTON -- The town is not yet taking an official position on a proposed biomass plant in Pownal but it does have some concerns, according to Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd.
Select Board members raised the issue Monday after receiving a copy of a letter sent by town officials in Williamstown, Mass., to the Pownal Select Board. The Williamstown officials said they currently oppose the project until more questions are answered.
Beaver Wood Energy has proposed building a 29.5-megawatt biomass and integrated wood pellet facility at the former Green Mountain Race Track. The project has sparked strong opposition, however, among some Pownal residents and those in nearby towns over potential pollution and other environmental concerns.
Beaver Wood is seeking an Act 248 permit to complete the project. The company is hoping to secure a preliminary permit to win federal grant money available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill.
The town of Bennington has "party status" in the permit hearing proceedings because it is adjacent to Pownal. But Hurd said during a Select Board meeting Monday that the town has not been kept in the loop.
"I’m surprised we haven’t been contacted by Beaver Wood at all regarding our position," Hurd said.
Select Board members said Monday they will not take a position -- at least for now. But the town will follow the proceedings -- and may participate -- to ensure the town’s interests are not harmed.
"Anything this big with that kind of impact potential does concern me," Chairwoman Lodie Colvin said.
Board member Joseph Krawczyk Jr., the outgoing vice chairman of the Vermont House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is likely to attend a hearing next week, Hurd said. The town’s economic development director and planning director will also attend, he said.
The Pownal Select Board has yet to take an official position.
Rick Morgenthal, of Concerned Citizens of Pownal, attended Monday’s meeting, urging the board to use its party status to push for a thorough permit process and not an expedited partial process that will allow Beaver Wood to begin construction in time to secure federal tax credits.


By Monty Guild
Nov 5 2010 12:07PM

Oil Prices
A detailed analysis of the trend in future oil prices reached many institutional investors this week. It was prepared by Morgan Stanley and represents their proprietary analysis of the long-term supply of oil from over 500 major fields of both OPEC and non-OPEC producers. The report expected “Spare capacity to fall to untenable levels. If global demand increases by a modeled 1.5 million barrels/day in 2011, and an arbitrary 1% thereafter, spare capacity will fall to 2.5 million barrels/day by end-2012, comparable to levels seen in 2007 and 2008. Tighter [impossible] levels of spare capacity are seen from 2013-15.”
In our opinion, the energy consumption increases modeled by Morgan Stanley are conservative. We believe that actual consumption increases may exceed those amounts. Demand for oil is inelastic in the intermediate term. Increases in the availability of alternatives to oil tend to take some time to develop, so oil prices will rise.
Morgan Stanley predicts $100/barrel oil in 2011 and $105 in 2012. Our view is that this shortage mentality will be layered upon a situation where the pricing mechanism for oil (the U.S. dollar) is weakening; putting further upward pressure on oil prices. We concur with Morgan Stanley’s conclusions, but our view also includes the obvious probability that continued weakening of the U.S. dollar will put further upward pressure on oil prices.
Proposed federal rules regarding biomass boilers likely will be changed, removing financial threat to the state's paper mills, hospitals and schools

By: Matt Wickenheiser -- Bangor Daily News

Proposed federal rules regarding biomass boilers likely will be changed, removing financial threat to the state's paper mills, hospitals and schools, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins told Maine papermakers Thursday.

Collins spoke at the Maine Pulp and Paper Association's annual meeting, spending much of her time on the Environmental Protection Agency rules. She also talked about her hopes to make permanent pilot rules that allow heavier trucks on the interstate system in Maine.

The Maine Republican said the EPA's proposed Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or MACT, rules were the product of "overzealous bureaucrats." The rules would essentially require the monitoring and scrubbing of emissions from biomass boilers which many mills have moved to in recent years to get away from fossil fuels, noted Doug Walsh, executive vice president for operations at Lincoln Paper and Tissue. Walsh said that in recent years, Maine mills have spent hundreds of millions investing in biomass boilers.

Collins said that the EPA estimated that it would cost the wood products sector $9.5 billion nationwide to install the technology required under the proposed rules. But an independent analysis put the cost at roughly $21 billion, she said.

And while the federal Department of Energy has been subsidizing operations to convert from fossil fuel to biomass, the EPA is looking to make those operations more expensive, said Collins.

"It's clearly an example of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing," said Collins.

Collins said she recently sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson opposing the changes. The letter was co-signed by 40 other Republican and Democratic senators, said Collins. In a response, Jackson said that the final rules likely would be different from the proposal. Collins said she has also discussed the issue with a key official in the Office of Management and Budget, who told her the administration was "taken aback" by the number of senators who signed onto the letter, and the bipartisan nature of the opposition.

Walsh said the Maine papermakers were hopeful that Collins' efforts to fight the proposed rules would prove successful.

Collins also spoke on the pilot program that allows trucks of up to 100,000 pounds on the interstate in Maine. The program is due to expire Dec. 17. Congress is set to work on a continuing resolution bill that would continue to fund government operations, and a provision that would extend the weight allowance indefinitely will be in that bill, said Collins.

She shared some benefits from the change in regulations with the audience. A truck taking a one-way trip from Hampden to Houlton along I-95, instead of Route 2, skips 270 intersections and nine school crossings, she said, and saves 50 minutes and $30 in fuel. Having the program in place for a year would save Lincoln Paper and Tissue 120,000 gallons of diesel, she said, and essentially is the same as moving the mill 291 miles closer to its market the equivalent of relocating to Newton, Mass.

"This is all about competitiveness," she said.

Collins pointed out that the paper industry in Maine employs 7,800 and puts about $900 million into the economy annually.

"While the economy is changing, the Maine pulp and paper industry remains the backbone of our economy," she said.


Solid Energy business Nature's Flame has loaded its second bulk shipment of wood pellet fuel to be used by European utilities.

The 17,000-tonne shipment, loaded at Napier, was part of an initial three-year $15 million supply agreement. A first shipment of 6700 tonnes went in March, Solid Energy said today.

Nature's Flame was also continuing to develop its presence in Europe's home-heating market, with a further 3000-tonne consignment of retail-ready bagged pellets being shipped in containers during the next four months.

In March, Nature's Flame formally opened this country's largest wood pellet fuel plant. The $34 million Taupo plant can produce up to 40,000 tonnes a year of the fuel, and planning is now under way to expand that to 90,000 tonnes. Nature's Flame also has pellet plants in Rotorua and at Rolleston, near Christchurch.


The Maine Department of Conservation says eight wood-to-energy conversion projects are receiving more than $5.55 million in federal stimulus funding.
The energy-conversion grants will provide partial funding for projects at six school systems, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Medical Center. The projects call for wood chip or pellet boilers to replace or supplement existing heating systems, saving thousands of gallons of oil.
The conservation department says the projects will create 185 jobs.
Besides creating jobs, the goals are to achieve energy savings, reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable forestry.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In March earlier this year Solid Energy business Nature’s Flame opened New Zealand’s largest wood pellet production facility.

The Taupo-based plant, which cost $34 million (€24.55 million) to build, has a total output capacity of 40,000 tonnes of pellets a year but the company is already planning to expand this to 90,000 tonnes.

Earlier this month Nature’s Flame loaded its second bulk shipment of pellets as part of a three-year $15 million supply agreement.

The 17,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel were loaded at Napier, following its first shipment of 6,700 tonnes, which went in March.

The pellets are destined for Europe where they will be utilised by a number of utility companies.


Published: Nov 12, 2010
Leaks from carbon dioxide injected deep underground to help fight climate change could bubble up into drinking water aquifers near the surface, driving up levels of contaminants in the water tenfold or more in some places, according to a study by Duke University scientists.
Based on a year-long analysis of core samples from four drinking water aquifers the researchers found "the potential for contamination is real, but there are ways to avoid or reduce the risk," said Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Environmental Change and professor of biology at Duke.
"Geologic criteria that we identified in the study can help identify locations around the country that should be monitored or avoided," he said. "By no means would all sites be susceptible to problems of water quality."
The study appears in the online edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Duke researchers collected core samples from four freshwater aquifers around the nation that overlie potential CCS sites and incubated the samples in their university lab for a year, with CO2 bubbling through them.
After a year's exposure to the CO2, analysis showed a number of potential sites where CO2 leaks drive contaminants up tenfold or more, "in some cases to levels above the maximum contaminant loads set by the EPA for potable water," Jackson said. Three key factors – solid-phase metal mobility, carbonate buffering capacity and electron exchanges in the overlying freshwater aquifer – were found to influence the risk of drinking water contamination from underground carbon leaks.
The study also identified four markers that scientists can use to test for early warnings of potential carbon dioxide leaks. "Along with changes in carbonate concentration and acidity of the water, concentrations of manganese, iron and calcium could all be used as geochemical markers of a leak, as their concentration increase within two weeks of exposure to CO2," Jackson said.
The study was funded by the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory and Duke's Center on Global Change.
Read more news and features on emissions control.


Source: The Chattanoogan

A 50-year-old Rome, Ga., man on Tuesday pleaded guilty before Senior United States District Judge Robert L. Vining in federal district court to multiple charges relating to a $4 million scheme involving timber that did not exist.

A jury had been selected and Aaron Wilbert Freeman's trial was set to begin Wednesday when he decided to plead guilty.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "Paper is made from trees, but in this case, Freeman created trees out of paper. He did so by manipulating his employer's computer system to create phony receipts for timber deliveries that never took place. He also recruited timber truck drivers to redeem the fake receipts for payment, then laundered the proceeds through multiple financial institutions."

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, stated, "The level of fraud that Mr. Freeman conspired to commit against his former employer, the Temple-Inland Company, was significant. The FBI is pleased that, through its investigation and the resulting prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office, not only was any additional fraud stopped, but now Mr. Freeman will be held accountable for his actions."

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Freeman worked as a scale house operator at the Temple-Inland Company paper mill in Floyd County until June 2006. The scale house received and weighed approximately 350 timber trucks each day, providing a delivery receipt, known in the industry as a "scale ticket," to each driver as proof of delivery.

Between 2003 and 2006, Freeman worked primarily during the night shift, often alone, processing timber deliveries through the scale house computer system.

While working in the scale house during this time frame, Freeman manipulated the computer system to produce multiple weight readings when a single timber truck passed through the paper mill's scale, making it appear as if there had been two or more deliveries when there had only been one. He then caused the computer system to generate false scale tickets for the phantom loads, along with valid scale tickets for the legitimate deliveries. The Rome scale house computer system would simultaneously transmit the delivery information electronically to Temple-Inland's headquarters in Austin, Texas, ultimately resulting in electronic funds transfers from Temple-Inland's bank to timber suppliers' bank accounts in Georgia and South Carolina.

After creating the false scale tickets, Freeman recruited multiple people, including Kevin A. Fields, 31, of Forsyth, Ga.; Jason S. Joseph, 32, of Macon; Roger G. Carthern, 63, and R. Andrew Carthern, 40, both of Jefferson, Ga.; J. David Carthern, 64, of Commerce, Ga.; Robert Frank Ferguson Jr., 56, of Maysville, Ga.; and George Bonner Tate, 40, of Hartwell, Ga., to redeem the false scale tickets for payment by timber suppliers, launder the payments through multiple banks and credit unions, and return a share of the money to Freeman in cash.

By manipulating the scale house computer system and creating false scale tickets, Freeman caused Temple-Inland to pay approximately $3.35 million for phantom timber that Fields claimed to have delivered; $910,000 for phantom timber that Joseph claimed to have delivered; $313,000 to Roger and Andrew Carthern; more than $112,000 to David Carthern and Robert Frank Ferguson; and more than $160,000 to George Tate, all of whom shared their money with Freeman.

Freeman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the wire fraud conspiracy, and a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to approximately $3.6 million for the money laundering conspiracy.


Source: The Moscow Times

Vyborgskaya Cellulose, a Russian pulp and paper maker, said Friday that it expected to start producing pellets that can be used in heat and electricity generation from its plant in Vyborg by the end of the year.

The plant, located in northwest Russia, will eventually produce about 900,000 tons of pellets per year, making it the largest in the world once operational, said Irmgard Herold, an industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Swedish trading house Ekman & Co., which has an exclusive sales agreement with Vyborgskaya, is initially looking to sell "large volumes" of the pellets to industrial users, Arnold Dale, vice president of bioenergy for Ekman, said by e-mail.

"We do, however, already have several smaller contracts to supply premium-grade wood pellets to small combined heat and power plants in Scandinavia," Dale said. "Talks are ongoing with potential distributors in key European consumer pellet markets."

The pellets will not be "significantly" cheaper because of large-scale production, Dale said. "Economies of scale can only provide savings on a small percentage of the costs. The main costs, like raw material and even the capex, are what they are, and no great savings are available."

The pellets will be produced using round wood, said Dale, and Vyborgskaya has several large 49-year leases on forest land in the Leningrad and Pskov regions. Raw material should comprise about 60 percent of overall production costs, he said.

At present, U.S. producers supply most West European power stations, Herold said, while most residential demand is supplied by European producers. "We do expect to be able to compete with the Americas, especially as there is less currency risk and much shorter shipping distances," Dale said.

In February, Vyborgskaya said the plant would cost about $100 million to build. Of this, VTB Group provided $41 million, and Tavrichesky Bank $10 million.


Slave River Journal

Photo Caption: Aurora Colleges new wood pellet boiler system involves a silo to store pellets that are auger fed into the system.

Two of Fort Smith's largest institutions fired up wood-pellet boilers for the first time this winter, beginning the community's transition from oil heating systems.

Aurora College's Thebacha Campus and the PWK/Recreation Center building started using new, 750-kilowatt wood-pellet boilers last month.

The conversions are part of the territorial government's plan to replace heating oil across the territory using a variety of alternative power sources.

"It's tied into all the work we're doing on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels," said Michael Miltenberger, MLA for Thebacha. "We're doing similar work in communities across the land, from waste heat recovery to hydro facilities in small communities like Lutsel K'e, to some geothermal potential in Yellowknife. We have a very broad strategy, fundamentally changing the way we generate power."

The two biomass boilers will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Fort Smith by over 900 tonnes annually, according to the GNWT's department of Public Works and Services.

A third wood-pellet boiler is ready for the Fort Smith Health Center, but installation has been delayed to coincide with the facility's renovations. The Health Center's boiler should be running by fall 2011.

The payback period on each wood-pellet furnace is between three and five years, depending on the price of oil.

Maurice Evans, regional manager of Public Works in Fort Smith, said the boilers should heat the buildings 90 per cent of the time.

The only unknown comes when temperatures drop below -22C. Evans said that oil boilers may have to be used to supplement the wood heat at those low temperatures, although no one is quite sure how the wood-pellet boilers will react in the heart of winter.

The oil boilers previously used as a main heat source for each building remain in place as backups.

Taylor and Company of Hay River signed a five-year contract to provide pellets for all three systems and initial maintenance on the boilers.

Evans said that Public Works employees will shadow the Taylor and Company maintenance workers this winter to get a feel for how the systems work. Next year, GNWT employees will be expected to do the bulk of maintenance on the facilities.

As the boilers are auger-fed, the pellets are kept in a silo-type container outside of the main building. The auger feeds pellets into the boiler, eliminating the manual filling necessary with home pellet-boiler systems.

Taylor and Company is trucking wood pellets in from Quesnel, BC.

By Catherine Airlie - Nov 17, 2010 11:33 AM CT Wed Nov 17 17:33:16 GMT 2010

RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, may convert its 1,050-megawatt coal-fired power station in Essex, southeast England, to run on wood pellets, which would make it the largest biomass plant in the U.K.
RWE’s Tilbury plant could operate solely on biomass by the fourth quarter of 2011, Dan Meredith, a spokesman for RWE Npower in Swindon, England, said by e-mail. The company hasn’t yet decided whether to make the switch.
“We are developing proposals to convert our existing power station at Tilbury to use 100 percent biomass in place of coal,” Meredith said. “If taken forward, all three of the station’s operational units would generate power from sustainably sourced renewable wood pellets until the scheduled closure of the power station, by the end of 2015.”
The British government supports burning biomass to help it reach a European Union target of getting 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Britain changed its subsidy to give long-term certainty for biomass in July through the so- called Renewables Obligation, Britain’s subsidy program.
The existing coal-power station at Tilbury is due to close once it has used up hours allotted under the EU’s so-called Large Combustion Plant Directive, or at the latest by the end of 2015. The directive aims to curb gasses blamed for acid rain.
Largest Biomass Plant
Burning biomass to make electricity is technology that “can be deployed today” Will Rolls, a Surrey, south England- based information office at the Biomass Energy Centre, a government established group based near Farnham, said by e-mail.
Tilbury would probably rank as the world’s largest biomass plant, according to Rolls. Biomass plants in Britain “could help create new markets” for wood from the U.K.’s currently unmanaged forests, Rolls said. Large plants will likely get biomass from overseas, he said.
Since January 2008, the coal plant, comprised of three units, has used about half of its allotted 20,000 hours of operation. Unit 8 generated for 10,245 hours in the period through the end of October, while units 9 and 10 have used 10,503 hours, according to National Grid Plc data submitted by power generators. The plant must close by the end of 2015.
RWE is looking at ways it can “maximize the value” of plants that are due to close, Meredith said. “First technical trials seem to indicate significant reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust, as well as significant carbon saving over coal.” Sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides are pollutants limited under the EU laws tackling acid rain.
Drax Group Plc, owner of a 4,000-megawatt coal plant in Selby, northern England, western Europe’s largest, has the ability to mix biomass in with the coal, meaning up to 500 megawatts of the plant’s capacity can come from biomass. Drax also has plans to build three biomass plants in the U.K.
To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Airlie in London at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

CATHERINE TSAI | 11/15/10 09:54 PM |

DILLON, Colo. — A strong wood-products industry is key to removing thousands of dead, bark beetle-infested trees that threaten to topple onto roads, power lines and campsites or harm watersheds around the West, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Monday.
Members of the timber industry, meanwhile, say they need more sustainable sources of logs and a stronger market for them to stay healthy.
Beetles that burrow under the bark of trees have killed about 21.5 million acres in the interior West, or more than 33,000 square miles, Tidwell said at a bark beetle summit hosted by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.
The Forest Service estimates about 98,000 trees are falling each day, but government funding can't keep up with how many trees must be cut to protect watersheds, people and infrastructure.
"We have a true crisis on our hands," Ritter said.
Last year, the Forest Service approved $40 million for the outbreak in Colorado, Wyoming and the Black Hills in western South Dakota. About $30 million is going to projects in three national forests in Colorado, where the epidemic has hit hard.
Yet of about 215,000 acres in most immediate need of work, only about 20 percent of the land has been treated, said Antoine Dixon, deputy regional forester for the Forest Service. That makes it imperative for government to get the private sector involved.
"We need an integrated wood products industry to support the conservation work that needs to be done," Tidwell said.
The nation's forests have had bark beetle epidemics before but never one this large, that has spread so fast and has reached such high elevations on trees with no natural resistance, he said.
That's due in part to warmer winters that aren't killing off as many beetles and past fire-suppression policies that allowed thick stands of lodgepole pine to grow.
Beetle-infested trees could be used as biomass for producing energy, but some timber industry executives said the Colorado biofuels market isn't developed enough to create enough demand.
The troubled Intermountain Resources mill in Montrose, which is in receivership, might process some of the felled trees, but costs of hauling trees cut in the north-central Colorado mountains to southwest Colorado are high.
That has left some logs to sit unused as contractors haul them to nearby private land rather than a faraway mill, said Patrick Donovan of Cordes and Co., the mill's receiver.
The mill also has had problems making timber contracts with the Forest Service work out as struggles in the housing industry have affected timber prices, he said.
"We're begging for logs. We're willing to pay for logs, but we can't get logs," Donovan said.
Ritter said the silver lining to the beetle epidemic is looking for economic opportunity that can come from dealing with infested trees.
His summit aimed to set the foundation for how governments, the private sector and nongovernment groups can tackle the hundreds of miles of corridors where dead trees need to be removed, with limited funds.
"Mother Nature bats last. We're just trying to keep the ball game going into extra innings," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Colorado regulators are hearing more on Black Hills Energy's plan to cut emissions by 2018.
A new state law gives the Colorado Public Utilities Commission until Dec. 15 to decide whether emissions-reduction proposals from Black Hills, a subsidiary of Black Hills Corp., and Xcel Energy Inc. are acceptable.
Black Hills proposes retiring its two coal-fired units in Canon City and building a unit in Pueblo fired by natural gas. It says it would cost too much to run the units on wood pellets instead.
Thomas Ohlmacher of Black Hills said at a PUC hearing in Denver Thursday that the utility needs to determine terms if it were to buy power from others instead of building a new unit.
Another hearing is set Saturday in Denver. The PUC will take public comments Monday in Canon City.


AKRON, Ohio (AP) — FirstEnergy Corp. has abandoned plans to burn wood instead of coal at an eastern Ohio power plant and will shut down the plant’s coal-fired boilers.
The two boilers at the R.E. Burger Plant at Shadyside in Belmont County will be shut down permanently by Dec. 31, the Akron-based utility said Wednesday. The utility last year announced a $200 million plan to burn biomass at the plant to keep the facility open and comply with a federal mandate to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.
That plan is no longer economically feasible given the drop in market prices for electricity, utility officials said.
Wood, farm products, manure, sludge, landfill and food wastes are considered biomass fuels, but FirstEnergy had said it was mainly interested in cleaner-burning wood pellets.
The utility is disappointed that the “ground-breaking project will not be realized,” Gary Leidich, executive vice president for FirstEnergy Generation, said in a statement.
The 79 plant employees will be offered other jobs with FirstEnergy, the utility said.
FirstEnergy spokeswoman Ellen Raines said other rarely used units at Burger, including a coal-fired unit used to provide peak or high-demand electricity, will continue to operate, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
Environmentalists hope the utility will invest in wind and solar along with energy efficiency to meet renewable energy requirements, said Cheryl Johncox of the Buckeye Forest Council.
Ohio utilities must get at least 12.5 percent of their power by 2025 from clean-energy sources, including wind, solar and biomass, with half of that total generated in Ohio.
The utility will be exploring new wind and solar options, Raines said.

Read more:

By CHRIS GAROFOLO / Reformer Staff
Posted: 11/20/2010 03:00:00 AM EST

CEO Butch Cersosimo watches the wood chips get screened at Cersosimo Lumber Company's new wood chip mill in Vernon. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Saturday November 20, 2010
VERNON -- Brattleboro's largest lumber manufacturer has constructed a state-of-the-art wood chip mill to produce an annual 50,000 tons of a new clean chip product for mass consumption.
Perhaps better known for its high-quality lumber throughout the Northeast, Cersosimo Lumber Company, Inc. has expanded its business to include low-grade pulpwood products manufactured at the new mill located at the company's Vernon yard just off Route 142.
Using lower quality logs as opposed to the valuable lumber at the main plant, Cersosimo employees strip off the bark and run the tree through a chipper to produce large quantities of a high-caliber material. The finished item is suitable for burning, wood pellet stoves or as paper products, as well as for landscaping designs.
The Reformer toured the new mill Thursday morning with CEO Butch Cersosimo. Positioned just a few miles south of the main plant, the six-acre, 7,500-square-foot mill broke ground in June 1 and began operations early this month.
Cersosimo has owned the property since the 1970s and has constructed the mill along with a new storage shed and chip reclaiming area on top of a new asphalt surface to limit the amount of debris from soiling the final product. An on-site diesel generator powers the entire facility.
Roughly 50,000 tons (or 1,600 loads) are expected to be processed every year. When operating at its maximum capacity, the mill can manufacture 300
tons (or 10 loads) of trees everyday, although functioning at that pace would quickly exhaust the timber supply.
Obtaining and transporting quality logs is difficult in southern Vermont as opposed to rural portions of New Hampshire and Maine, said Butch Cersosimo. Vermont's two easterly neighbors have multiple facilities similar to the new Cersosimo plant (the closest in Henniker, N.H.), but the Green Mountain State pales in comparison in terms of the number of pulp mills.
It is easier to load the timber onto trucks and bring the trucks directly to the plant and produce the clean chip for the market for paper items, wood pellets or smaller burners such as at Brattleboro Union High School.
"Now, there's a facility that can provide wood chips to any of these markets," said Butch Cersosimo.
While the company has produced a lesser chip for the past 35 years, the new equipment provides them the chance to sell a cleaner product in an industry that has significantly developed in the last decade.
"It also, on the other side of the coin, offers our loggers the opportunity to log more efficiently because the same time they're logging, they can remove the less desirable trees from a property, which gives the logger more income and it actually is a beneficial operation to the landowner because it takes the poor wood out of the forest," he added. "The local foresters are quite happy to have a facility like this where the loggers can go to and take their pulpwood."
"It's got added benefits on both ends -- it's not just on the lumber company end, but it's got benefits for the foresters and the loggers, and that's a good thing," said President Michael Cersosimo, who noted the mill gives them long-term economic potential in the latest chip market. "It's a pretty efficient mill, in that it only requires one or two people. It provides work for the foresters and the loggers, but to actually run it, it only requires one or two people."

Logs are loaded onto a conveyer at Cersosimo Lumber Company's new wood chip mill in Vernon. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
there is a single operator sited inside a Prentice 120 stationary loader with a crane where he can haul the trees onto the conveyor while also keeping an eye on the inside of the facility using the video monitors placed inside the cab.
Once loaded to the infeed chain, a tree travels through the Nicholson ring debarker to remove all the bark from the trunk. From there, the stripped log is conveyed to a 75-inch chipper where it is chipped into separate fine pieces and blown into a rotating chamber.
Those chips go through a metering device before passing into a BM&M screen to filter the different sizes. The 8-by-20-foot screen has two decks in order to separate both oversized and undersized pieces from the acceptable chips.
The smallest chips that fall through the screen are used as fuel for Cersosimo's boiler that is used to dry lumber. The oversized pieces are thrown in with the stripped bark and commonly are turned into landscaping mulch with the assistance of D&E Tree Company of Guilford.
Acceptable chips are temporally stored on the property and transported out via tractor trailer truck after passing through the computerized scale at the northern end of the mill site.
Established in 1947, Cersosimo Lumber is a three-generation family business employing about 200 employees with three main plants in the Brattleboro area and several other facilities in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

By Harry Williamson For the Sun-News
Posted: 11/20/2010 09:51:29 PM MST

SILVER CITY - 'Tis the season when the thoughts of homeowners turn to football, plump turkeys, and brightly wrapped gifts under their Christmas trees. It's also the season for crackling fires, sometimes in places homeowners don't want them - like their chimneys.
Silver City Fire Marshal Milo Lambert laments the number of chimney fires in the Silver City area last winter, hoping it's not a harbinger of bad things to come this year.
"We had six to eight home fires that started in the chimneys of wood stoves, some causing extensive damage," he said. "Usually there are only a couple of these fires a year. I hope it was simply because we had a longer, colder winter . . . but you never know."
Lambert said such fires usually occur in chimneys that have not been thoroughly cleaned, a task that should be accomplished at least once a year, if not twice. Lambert said that spending a hundred dollars or so to hire a professional chimney sweeper is well worth it.
"Some homeowners really know what they are doing, but any cleaning is better than not doing anything," he added.
Burning green, unseasoned wood can also cause a chimney fire. Unseasoned wood has high moisture content and doesn't burn well and creates a lot of smoke. Creosote is formed when volatile gases given off in the burning process combine and condense on their way out of the chimney. This gummy mess sticks in the chimney and builds up, especially during slower burning, smoky fires, and can smolder until the creosote ultimately catches fire.
Larry Moore, manager of Mr. Ed's Stoves & More, said a good way to check if wood is seasoned is to hit two pieces of wood together.
"It should make a sound much like a hardball hitting a bat," he said.
But once you have creosote built up in a chimney, the only way to remove it is a thorough cleaning at least once a year by climbing on the roof and running a correct-sized bristle brush, attached to extendable rods, down the entire length. This can either be done by the homeowner or by a professional chimney sweeper.
Shawn Singer, manager of A Better Chimney, said his firm is the only certified chimney sweeper in southern New Mexico, providing much more than just a cleaning service.
"We have the knowledge and experience to help make sure a homeowner's stove, hearth, connecting pipe, air inlets, chimney, and all other components are working efficiently and safely," he said.
Mr. Ed's Stoves & More also provides an extensive chimney and stove cleaning and checking service, according to Moore.
Besides checking chimneys and buying well-seasoned wood, another safe option for consumers who heat or supplement with wood is to consider buying a pellet stove.
"If they are installed properly, pellet stoves are fantastic," Lambert said. "I only know of one instance when a vent pipe from a pellet stove had slipped down and set a small grassy area on fire that the fire department easily put out."
There is a long-standing town code that such pipes must extend up a minimum of five feet.
Singer, Moore and Robert Corral, manager at Ace Hardware, all said consumers have been making the switch from wood to pellet stoves for many years.
"Right now I might be able to sell one wood stove for every 10 pellet stoves," Singer said.
Corral agreed, saying he now stocks four brands of pellet stoves, compared with just one wood stove brand. He added, however, that he is able to order the majority of stoves on the market.
The three-inch wide exhaust pipes used for pellet stoves should have very little, or no creosote build-up, in part due to the low moisture content of pellets, approximately 5 percent, compared to an average of 20 percent for well-seasoned firewood, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Moore said pellet stoves also have several other safety features besides creating low creosote, including a high limit switch if the stove gets too hot, and a flow/vacuum switch that stops the flow of pellets if the front glass is broken, the door is not securely closed, or if more than a quarter-inch of soot accumulates in the vent pipe. Wood stoves have no cut off switch if the chimney becomes partially blocked.
All of the local managers felt that along with safety, convenience and efficiency were also big selling points for pellet stoves.
"You just drag out a bag of pellets and have at it," Corral said. "There is not the chopping and stacking and the mess of continually carrying in wood and then taking out the ashes. The elderly especially like the convenience."
Singer said that today's pellet stoves are thermostat controlled, with pellets added automatically a few at a time to keep the heat constant. The hoppers on these stoves typically hold sufficient pellets for a full day's burn.
"There is no waste. Pellet stoves are cleaner and more cost efficient than other sources, including wood, electric resistance or propane heating," Singer said. "When customers purchase their pellet fuel at the beginning of the heating season, they are essentially locking in their heating costs."
Singer added that he has a good quality pellet, an oak and pine mix, on sale for $189 a ton, which consists of 50 bags. Of the four brands of pellets stocked at A Better Chimney, two are made in New Mexico.
"With a pellet stove, you can heat a house for a year for approximately $400. With propane costing between $3 and $4 a gallon, it would be more like $300 or $400 a month," Singer said.
The wood pellets, which look like rabbit feed, are manufactured from compacted sawdust, also often including wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper and other organic materials. The sawdust is put under pressure and extruded, causing the wood pitch to separate and act as a binder as the pellets cool.
"Most homeowners who use a pellet stove as a main source of heat will use two or three tons of pellet fuel a year, dependent on the size of the house," Singer said.
He said a pellet stove is the main heat source for approximately 60 percent of his buyers. They use their furnace as a back up, he said.
Pellet stoves "have every answer, except one," he added.
They require electricity to operate the various motors and fans. Stove manufactures estimate this electric use at approximately 100 kilowatt-hours a month.
All of the above mentioned stores have a wide range of accessories, including brushes, rods and other materials to clean the stove and chimney, along with various creosote-lessening additives, and gaskets to install on the interior of stove doors.
Harry Williamson is a freelance writer for the Sun-News. He welcomes feedback and story ideas at


Project officials gather Monday at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor at the site of a future wood pellet boiler building. The $4.4 million project, which is expected to reduce the lab's energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, is scheduled to be completed next spring. Buy Photo

11/23/10 01:59 am Updated: 11/23/10 02:30 am
By Bill Trotter
BDN Staff

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Mice have long been the focus of an 81-year-old local biomedical research facility, but wood pellets were not far behind in the minds of people who had gathered Monday for the laboratory’s latest project.
Officials with The Jackson Laboratory said the $4.4 million project is expected to result in the largest wood pellet boiler in the country. The project, funded in part by a $1 million grant from Efficiency Maine Trust, is expected to result in a $22 million investment in Maine’s economy over the next 10 years, lab officials said Monday.
John Fitzgerald, senior director of facilities services for the lab, said the boiler would help the lab save money on heating and electricity costs. The pellet-fired steam boiler is expected to reduce the lab’s heating costs by $700,000 a year and its electricity costs by $200,000 a year, he said.
“Energy is one of the biggest things we need to overcome,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a huge cost of doing business.”
What the lab saves in energy costs will have a secondary benefit to the lab, too, by being invested in the lab’s nonprofit research mission, he added. The lab itself is paying for the remaining $3 million of the energy facility’s construction costs.
The investment of $22 million over 10 years represents not just the construction project, which is expected to be completed sometime next spring, but the purchase of wood pellets made in the state, according to lab officials. At full firing rate, the burner is expected to burn through 60 tons of pellets in one day, which is enough to heat 400 Maine homes in the winter, they indicated.
At the same time, the project is expected to provide many environmental benefits as well, lab officials said. By using Maine-made wood pellets, the lab is tapping into a renewable resource and is reducing the amount of carbon emissions it generates.
Use of wood pellets will offset the annual consumption of 1.2 million gallons of fuel oil, which in turn will prevent 13,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere each year.
Norman Burdzel, facilities engineer for the lab, said it is important for the lab to operate sustainably and to cooperate with the environmental mission of its biggest abutting landowner, Acadia National Park.
“It’s great for the lab and great for the state of Maine,” Burdzel said, referring to the boiler project. “It’s really going to make our operations better.”
Mike Stoddard, director of Efficiency Maine Trust, said his organization was able to provide $1 million toward the project with the help of federal stimulus funds and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. He said the project will benefit other power users in Maine by decreasing the need for grid upgrades, which should help hold down costs for electricity ratepayers.
“We want to bring down people’s energy costs down around the board,” Stoddard said.
The construction project itself will have benefits for Maine’s business community, lab officials said. Pizzagalli, a construction firm based in Burlington, Vt., and with offices in Portland, will serve as general contractor and several Maine-based companies will work as subcontractors on the project, they said. The boiler is being manufactured by Swedish firm Petrokraft AB.
Jackson Lab, which had $166 million in operating revenue in 2009, is known internationally for its use of mice to research human disease and medical conditions. Each year, it breeds millions of specially bred laboratory mice that are used in similar studies all over the world. With nearly 1,200 employees at its Bar Harbor campus, Jackson Lab is the largest employer in eastern Maine.


By Mike Curci
Since the 1800s, the United States has been using biomass to generate power for use in homes and manufacturing. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, European countries began conducting co-firing tests utilizing wood pellets. Today, there are numerous case studies, along with a multitude of generating facilities that use wood pellets to offset the usage of coal. Hasselbyverket in Stockholm has been using 250,000 tons of pellets a year since 1993, and Electrabel is currently co-firing using 300,000 tons a year at its Rodenhuize, Belgium power plant.
The United States does not have a generating facility that utilizes wood pellets to generate power, yet the US is capable of producing over six million tons of pellets annually. Much of the US pellet production is currently exported to European countries for use in generating facilities. Recently, plans have been announced in the States for repowering or retrofitting facilities to be powered with wood pellet fuel. However, many of these projects are currently on hold or have even been completely abandoned due to pending EPA regulations. To date, only co-firing with pellets tests have been conducted within the US.
The Europeans have led the bioenergy power generation boom for the last 20 years, just as the Chinese led the technology boom. Some US utilities will point out the few problems co-firing wood pellets present such as unit fouling, effects on SCR Catalysts, carbon neutrality, supply chain and, most commonly, the economics. Wood pellets provide more benefits than problems, however, and are a more economical choice for renewable energy as compared to wind or solar. Co-firing can be achieved with minimal capital investment and quick implementation, while simultaneously creating local jobs. Biomass repowering is more cost competitive since it makes use of existing plant equipment. Unlike wind and solar, co-firing is a direct replacement for coal generation capacity, which can be dispatched. The environmental benefits of co-firing, including a reduction in sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury emitted from generating facilities, have spurred the testing and implementation in European countries.
Currently, the majority of co-fired boilers around the world are based on pulverized coal (PC) or circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology. Both technologies exhibit high conversion efficiency, however, CFBs usually offer lower furnace emissions and higher fuel flexibility. Implementing co-firing boiler technology can be ranked in the following order from no capital investment to high-level capital investments: co-milling, direct injection, unit conversion and, lastly and most expensively, Greenfield or Brownfield development. Co-milling presents lower capital costs, but also a lower energy yield when co-firing with wood pellets. Direct injection requires capital cost of $500 to $700 a kilowatt, but also results in a higher energy yield when compared to direct milling. Unit conversion is another option, but requires a higher capital cost of $1,400 to $2,000 a kilowatt and new industrial boiler MACT policies must be seriously considered.
State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or a Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) are the greatest driving factor for utilities that seek the opportunity to co-fire. Utilities have many options for meeting those standards such as with wind, solar, or biomass. Depending upon boiler technology and whether the project will be co-milled or use direct injection, the cost of meeting the RPS can be significantly lower. When utilities look to conduct co-firing tests, they must take into consideration seven key items:
1. Storage: Pellets are unable to be exposed to the elements like coal piles and must be kept dry;
2. Milling (sizing): Pellets must be reduced in size through the use of ball mills when being introduced into a pulverized coal boiler;
3. Delivery: Existing infrastructure at generating facilities was designed for coal and not pellets—therefore, consideration must be given to getting the pellet fuel to the boiler;
4. Slagging, Fouling: Woody biomass, as compared to herbaceous biomass, is less problematic in terms of fouling; nevertheless, consideration still must be given to prevent it;
5. Emissions: Fuel NOx can be higher if the boiler is not properly tuned;
6. Health & Safety: Off-gassing is a concern in wood pellet storage causing sickness and sometimes even death;
7. Ash Sales: Fly Ash containing biomass does not meet ASTM standards for use in concrete, so it must be land-filled.
Finally, it is apparent that fuel consistency for power generation is wanted by utilities. And, since pellets are uniform in size, shape, moisture, density, and energy content, they are a feedstock that must be considered.
Nearly all forms of biomass have some hurdle that needs to be overcome, but the benefits drastically outweigh any problem biomass has—especially when using pellets. Co-firing wood pellets for power generation makes sense on an environmental, renewable energy, energy independence, and rural economic level. Pellets are a viable feedstock for power generation and should be utilized as such.

Mike Curci is the chair of the Pellet Fuels Institute Commercial Fuel Committee.
Pellet Fuels Institute

New plant in Hayward, WI picks up some low-grade market slack

Great Lakes Renewable Energy -

By Mike Monte

Editor's Note: Special Thanks to Mike Monte, Free Lance Writer and Eric Johnson, Executive Editor, The Northern Logger Magazine for allowing us to re-print this article.

You can seldom watch or listen to a news program without the subject of energy independence hitting the airwaves, and there is plenty of hand wringing on this subject in internet blogs, newspapers and magazines as well. Bio-mass is usually mentioned whenever alternative energy sources are discussed, and there are the nay-sayers who have to interject that bio-mass cant meet all of our energy needs, or that we will be burning our forests to fuel our nation until we become a second Sahara desert. The debate goes on, but other people with a more realistic approach to energy needs, know that bio-mass will be a part of a many-faceted approach to making light, powering vehicles or staying warm, and it wont require the decimation of our forests, but simply using that timber which should be cut and more of the wood and residue from each tree.

Pellet stoves have become a common source of heat in the Lake States. They are found in homes and businesses, and they work quite well without a lot of fuss or worry. They also are economical to run. Until recently, the pellets were made from sawdust and other debris left over from manufacturing products from kiln-dried wood. There have been problems of supply for pellet manufacturers, especially when a company decides to move their manufacturing to a country like China, which then has the use of the dry sawdust.

Great Lakes Renewable Energy (GLRE), in Hayward, Wisconsin, has a different approach. They make most of their pellets from round wood that would normally have been sent to a paper mill. This doesn't mean the paper mills are going to hurt for wood, because with the number of mill closures we have experienced, we are hurting for mills and that means fewer markets for the wood supply and the logging infrastructure, freeing up roundwood for pellet production.

GLRE was started by three logging families: Rich and Lori Good, Mike and Connie Severson, and Barb and Terry Priem. It was back in 2005 when the idea germinated. As would be expected, there were plenty of snags in the process before the first pellet was squeezed out.

Ground was broken in April of 2008. Things would have progressed faster, but the fellow that was to sell them the needed property on the edge of Hayward started changing the deal, and finally decided not to sell the land. Fortunately, Thompson Sand and Gravel was sitting on 200 plus acres of gravel. They removed the gravel until there was a level site for GLRE and the rest of the property will serve as an industrial park for other businesses.

Our interview was with Herb Seeger, a Wisconsin guy, born on a dairy farm near Prairie Farm, Wisconsin. Seeger trained to be an accountant, and landed a good job with a metals firm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and spent 26 years in the metals industry with a company that owned eight plants in six states. Life was getting too hectic for the former farm kid, so at age 50 he decided to quit, take some time off and then look for a different job. That's when Connie Severson called Seeger and said she needed a business plan for a pellet mill.

Seeger says he knew nothing about logging, but then they didn't need a logger. They needed somebody who had the expertise to make a plan with reasonable profit and loss projections, find financing at local banks, maybe find and file for some grants, and other duties that most every business offers. He decided to give it a whirl.

Before long, Seeger was totally buried in the new business. Seeger did his job well. He found the new company financing for the site and the equipment. By April of 08, the company had qualified for a $290,000 grant and a $25,000 grant. The pellet mill was going to happen, and the three couples that had hired him to get it started said that as long as you know all about the business, you might as well stick with it.

Seeger decided to stay, and it is safe to say that he is an expert at making pellets, marketing pellets, pellet machinery and more.

Not dependent on manufactured sawdust, the three logger/owners supply roundwood to the plant, plus they buy roundwood from other loggers. The green wood is chipped to inch to 1 inch chips. The chips then move to a 400 horsepower hammer mill, then to a secondary grinder to separate the wood fibers. The grind from this process then feeds the fire for the wood drier and the pellet mills. It should be added that there is a certain amount of material that is from purchased sawmill residue that is also used in the pellet process. Of course, some of the raw material is given up in the process to dry wood fiber, but it isn't enough to wreck the bottom line. According to Seeger, an average of 15% of the volume of roundwood is used in drying, and this will vary with the humidity. When there is wet weather, it will take about 18%, but with the dry weather the amount will drop below the 15% mark. Munch pellet mills are imported from Germany, and Great Lakes has three in operation. Each weigh three tons and are powered by dual 300 horse electric motors. Seeger says that the rule-of-thumb for pellet mills is that each 100 horsepower equals one ton of pellets per hour. He also says that about one cord of roundwood will equal one ton of pellets.

The mill uses about 25,000 cords of roundwood plus some residual chips and sawdust from sawmills. The raw material is 50% hardwood and 50% softwood. The mill employs sixteen hourly workers and four salaried people. The mill runs three shifts five days a week. When we visited the plant, it was shut down for cleaning. The plant had just finished a fourteen day run, and the burner and pellet mills were due for cleaning. Seeger said that this happens about every six weeks. The crew was still bagging pellets, however, from the bin that towered over the bagging machine.

Not all pellets are put in pretty bags. There were pallets loaded with large totes that hold a ton of loose pellets on the mill floor, and these are sold to industrial users and some to area schools that use large pellet burners. Seeger mentioned a nearby church that heated with pellets as well.

Seeger got into the math for pellets and the BTUs they produce. He says there are 16 million BTUs in one ton of pellets, which is the amount of pellets on one pallet. So, what are the savings when compared to fuel oil or propane?

Seeger whipped out his pocket calculator and starting poking in the numbers. He found that the numbers were too big for the capacity of the small calculator, so being creative with the decimal point, he was able to give me these numbers. He computed that 36,000 tons of pellets equal 72,000,000 pounds of pellets. At 8,000 BTUs per pound, Seeger calculated that it was the equivalent of 4 million gallons of fuel oil or 6 million gallons of propane. He didn't do the natural gas equivalent, but you get the picture. It is good to remember that, especially when talking to some of the greenies that are worried about cutting trees, that the fuel oil not used because wood pellets took its place, was neither drilled on a coastal area, like the Gulf of Mexico, nor transported across an ocean from a foreign market that would have added to our already ponderous trade deficit. Home-grown and grows back, should be worth something.

We are in the middle of what is now called The Great Recession, and I was glad to see a plant that was operating and filling a domestic need from a source of domestic raw material. We are treated to bad news often enough through the media, that the visit to Great Lakes was somewhat uplifting. That is not to say that the pellet market is burgeoning and booming. There have been several failures of pellet plants in the Great Lakes area, and like all businesses, efficiency and marketing are big keys to keeping the doors open, especially through bad times.

Jerry Brown is the marketing manager for GLRE. In a conversation with Brown, he pointed out that several pellet plants have had to close their doors. Availabilty of sawdust might be a reason, but according to Brown there are other reasons for a pellet plant to fail in the market place. He pointed out that packaging of the product is important. Of course, the look of the bag can be important to a consumer, and we all tend to react to eye-pleasing packaging, but there are other factors. Brown told of a pellet plant that cheapened the bags. Using thinner plastic might save some costs, but when the guy filling his pellet stove has the side of the bag let go, putting 40 pounds of little round cylinders all over his floor, he tends to get angry. Chances are he won't buy that brand again. Bags that get a little tear, also let in moisture, and most people who burn pellet stoves has had a bag of pellets that had a little tear somewhere that let in moisture. I can speak from experience that a little tear can give you a bag with a solid block of wood fiber that just doesn't work well in the stove.

Packaging costs are cut when pellets are sold in bulk to a user with a big burner, of course, and this also saves labor in filling and palletizing the bags. The one-ton totes are also re-usable, saving money for the manufacturer and the end-user.

Brown says you also need a good network of dealers. Currently, GLRE has about 300 dealers handling their product. Those dealers can offer their customers standard wood pellets that produce 8,400 BTUs and produce 1.6% of ash from their original bulk or premium pellets that are advertised to produce 8590 BTUs per pound and will produce only .53% of ash. GLRE also produces two labels of premium pellets that are the same content, giving them a chance to set up dealers in close proximity who wont feel as if they are competing with the same product. My bet is that some of the end users will swear by one brand and not want the other, but in reality, it is the same product. This may have something to do with which bag is the most attractive!

GLRE is also in the BBQ wood pellet business. Instead of burning your steaks or ribs on charcoal or propane, the backyard cooking enthusiast can invest in a pellet-fired grill and cook on flavored pellets. GLRE offers hickory, cherry, maple, apple, oak, mesquite flavored pellets, as well as a blend of hickory, cherry and oak. While gourmet wood pellets might seem like a stretch, it gives the GLRE a shot into the market place occupied by those companies that offer flavored wood chips for the charcoal grill, and why not?

It turns out that animal bedding is another market where wood pellets can do the job. As it turns out, the lowly popple, aspen in other circles, works extremely well for animal bedding. GLRE has a line of animal bedding, including cat litter, that is being used on farms. It is quite economical compared to other bedding material. It is also superior for odor control, which is good for cat owners, and will expand, when taking in moisture, to four times its original size. The bedding comes in the standard 40-pound bag, one-ton totes or bulk.

Currently, there is a full market for wood pellets. This will expand as more consumers invest in pellet stoves, and they are an economical way to heat. Our old office has had a pellet stove for the last four winters. It is a big building with five apartments on the second floor. Built in 1921, it was originally heated with wood, then coal, then fuel oil and then natural gas. Things have come full circle, as it is one again heated with wood. A cold northern Wisconsin winter month would mean that we received a heating bill for $3,000 for that month. With a $2,400 investment in a pellet stove, our biggest bill went to $1,000. Bear in mind that this is a commercial building with high ceilings and it would cost more to make the building energy efficient than it would to tear it down and start over. And, it had no effect on our insurance premiums. Pellet stoves will be installed at an increasing rate as fossil fuels increase in price, and I don't think there is anybody who will argue that fossil fuels won't increase. In the meantime, Great Lakes Renewable Energy and their counterparts in the industry are working to give all of us an alternative we can afford.


• APX-ENDEX and Port of Rotterdam to jointly engage in feasibility study for exchange trading of biomass products
• Focus on wood pellets as a likely first product to start with
• APX-ENDEX to deliver trading and clearing services
• Port of Rotterdam to facilitate infrastructure for physical settlement of trades
• Initiators make an appeal to the new government to swiftly take up a position on the role of biomass within the energy mix
• Initiative supported by Holland Financial Centre and Rotterdam Climate Initiative as it is in line with their objectives
APX-ENDEX, the Anglo-Dutch energy exchange, today announces the cooperation with the Port of Rotterdam in the development of biomass markets. This cooperation has been formalised by signing a Letter of Intent.
Since November 2008, APX-ENDEX has published a price index for industrial wood pellets to provide the market with much needed transparency. This index has gained wide acceptance in the market and the number of parties that contribute prices to the index has increased steadily. A recent survey among APX-ENDEX members and active market participants in the bio-energy markets, indicated the need for standardised, exchange traded bio-energy products, facilitated by an independent and secure platform. APX-ENDEX is responding to the market’s request by investigating a market infrastructure where standardised biomass contracts will be settled physically in Rotterdam.
APX-ENDEX and the Port of Rotterdam intend to work closely together in developing the necessary market infrastructure and are excited by the prospect of establishing the first biomass exchange in the world. It is their intention to closely involve market participants in developing the market. With the introduction of a biomass exchange with physical settlement, the Port of Rotterdam will strengthen its position as a main port in Europe for biomass products.
Both Holland Financial Centre (HFC) and Rotterdam Climate Initiative (RCI) strongly welcome this initiative. In 2008, the improvement of the trading in biomass products had already been on the agenda of HFC. The initiative to start this exchange therefore fits in well, dovetailing with their spearhead of Climate & Sustainability. For RCI, this initiative has great value as it contributes to its objectives of reducing CO2 emissions, and strengthening the economy of Rotterdam.
APX-ENDEX will provide the trading platform as well as clearing and settlement services for trading members of the exchange. The Port of Rotterdam will contribute its expertise and know-how with regards to shipping, storage and distribution of biomass products to the joint effort. Once the details of the market structure have been established, major market players, active in the trading of biomass, will be approached for consultation and their commitment to support this initiative. Input of market participants is considered a key success factor for a successful launch of this new market. Market consultation is expected to take place in Q3 2010.
The biomass exchange will facilitate wider use of biomass products to generate renewable energy by providing a safe trading and investment environment for producers, trading houses and end users. The first biomass product to focus on are industrial wood pellets. In generating power industrial wood pellets are used as a substitute for coal. This clean form of fuel is CO² neutral and contributes considerably to CO² reduction goals.
It is crucial for the new Dutch government to express its vision on the role of biomass in the sustainable generation of electricity. Biomass is a reliable technology that is already available and further development would also have spin-off benefits. Various studies have shown that biomass is the cheapest way for the Netherlands to generate sustainable electricity. The energy companies are willing to make substantial investments if the government provides the necessary clarity and long-term certainty. In this connection, the government is urged to oblige energy suppliers to purchase a certain percentage of sustainable electricity. This should be combined with financial support for a brief transitional period.
“Biomass is an important priority for Port of Rotterdam. Biomass will be used as an alternative to fossil fuels, thereby making an important contribution to our sustainability objectives and cutting CO2 emissions in this area. A biomass exchange will encourage the supply and use of biomass. Given the experience that APX-ENDEX has gained with trading in other energy products and the ambition to extend those activities to include biomass, we see APX-ENDEX as a highly suitable partner.” - Hans Smits, CEO of Port of Rotterdam.
"APX-ENDEX is thrilled to be given the opportunity to work closely together with Port of Rotterdam in this initiative. This not only fits very well with our ambition to take up a strong market position in the trading, clearing and settlement of green energy products; working together with one of the major ports in the world with a vested position in biomass lends high credibility to this initiative. By facilitating fair and transparent trading in these products, access to biomass will become easier and its use as an alternative source of energy will be encouraged. This will contribute to achieving carbon reduction targets and further enhance the already strong position of Port of Rotterdam in these products." - Pieter Schuurs, COO of APX-ENDEX

Posted: 11/26/2010 10:25:44 PM EST

Friday November 26, 2010
BENNINGTON -- A group created by the Legislature has issued recommendations that could affect a plan to build two energy facilities in the state.
Beaver Wood Energy, LLC, is seeking a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board to build a 29.5-megawatt biomass plant in Pownal that will also produce 110,000 tons of wood pellets per year. The developers hope to construct a similar plant in Fair Haven.
Supports concept
In its second interim draft report, the Biomass Energy Development Working Group, composed of lawmakers, state officials and forestry experts, says it supports "the concept of one additional large-scale (20- to 25-megawatt) wood-fired electrical generating facility located in Southern Vermont (south of U.S. Route 4)."
Fair Haven, where Beaver Wood has proposed one of the two facilities, is near Route 4.
The location of the sole facility supported by the Working Group should be coordinated with the state’s utilities "to maximize balance for their systems," according to the interim report. It also notes that an electrical generating plant would provide a year-round market for biomass fuel and "anchor" a wood supply network in the four Southern Vermont counties. Biomass use could jump by 200,000 to 250,000 tons annually.
Biomass suppliers in Windsor, Windham, Rutland and Bennington counties are now trucking wood chips to markets outside of Southern Vermont. The report
states that a plant located in the region would significantly shorten hauling distances and reduce the use of diesel fuel.
In addition, the interim report notes that the state’s Section 248 permit process "may take years from the initial application to project approval," and recommends changes to "increase predictability and reduce processing time." The report suggests the Section 248 process be compared to the state’s Act 250 process, which helps developers with project applications.
A form should be created for larger energy projects, according to the report.
"The PSB also should consider the assignment of a person or persons who can assist the applicant in completing the application form in the same manner as Act 250 coordinators do today," the report states.
The Working Group also favors enhancing the state’s biomass industry through incentives, including tax credits, low interest loans, favorable power rates and renewable energy credits. The incentives should not favor one form of biomass or another, however, according to the report.
The Working Group must issue its final report to the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources and Energy by Nov. 15, 2011.
Contact Neal P. Goswami at
Posted: December 4, 2010 - 12:18am | Updated: December 4, 2010 - 3:18am
By Edward Fulford
Georgia's 10 coal-fired power plants should consider adding wood pellets to the fuel mix.
A major concern about coal-fired plants is the watershed-fouling mercury they emit.
Before emissions filters are factored in, burning coal produces 16 pounds of mercury per teraBTU (or 1 trillion BTUs, a measure of the energy output of the fuel introduced into a boiler).
That's according to Eric Cornwell, manager of the stationary source permitting program for the state Environmental Protection Division.
Wood, on the other hand, produces 3.5 pounds of mercury per teraBTU of heat input.
Scrubbers can remove about 90 percent of the mercury from both wood and coal emissions, Mr. Cornwell said.
Another point in favor of the wood pellets is that they are a Georgia-grown, renewable resource.
When Waycross-based Georgia Biomass starts operations next year, it will have the capacity to produce some 750,000 tons of wood pellets per year from local timber sources.
The wood fuel will be shipped out of Savannah for use by the German utility RWE Innogy.
According to, that company has already replaced 30 percent of its coal usage, mainly with wood pellets.
In the Peach State, only one biomass plant is currently operational, a small Rabun County facility in Northeast Georgia. Others have been permitted, but they range from the 10- to 100-megawatt output range.
By contrast, the state's coal-fired plants average a power output of about 1,000 megawatts.
Mr. Cornwell said biomass is held back, in part, by technology that has not yet developed a wood-fired boiler large enough to rival the long-running coal plants.
Another is the amount of wood required to reach 1,000 megawatts: A rough estimate of 4.3 million tons of wood pellets per year.
As the weight of raw wood used for dehydrated pellets is about twice that of the finished product, it would take more than 8 million tons of Georgia pine to fuel one large power plant.
Still, it makes sense to investigate the use of this renewable energy resource.
Replacing part of our fossil fuel use with wood pellets would provide a new market for Georgia tree growers and reduce harmful emissions.
Nationwide, a greater reliance on wood pellets could reduce U.S. dependence on the heating oil (basically, diesel fuel), which is widely used for home heating in the Northeast, and contributes to our reliance of foreign oil.
Edward Fulford is an editorial writer for the Savannah Morning News.