Saturday, March 3, 2012

G Brown Newsletter Feb 2012

February 2012
Gerald W brown * 7202 County Road U * Danbury, WI 54830 Phone 715-866-8535
Gerald Brown is solely responsible for the content in this newsletter




























By Jim Hook

In this Public Opinion file photo, Marion firefighters battle the... (Public Opinion file photo)
MARION - Neighbors to a former wood pellet factory in Marion fear operations may restart.
The A.J. Stoves and Pellets plant was the site of three dust explosions - two in August 2008 and a third in 2010. The operation was declared a nuisance, and occupants ordered from the building.
Neighbors say large equipment was delivered Tuesday to the plant at 5773 Colorado St. Extended. One piece appeared to be ductwork. Another appeared to be an industrial ventilator. A third piece, delivered on a flatbed tractor trailer, was connected to the building with ductwork, they said.
Dawn Largent reacted to the appearance of the equipment after nearly two years without dirt and noise. She lives with her sister, Bonnie, across the railroad tracks from the plant.
"I got physically sick, and broke down and cried," she said. "It was torture to live here. You cannot get away from the noise. It absolutely drives you crazy. I've had eye infections. I've been to the doctor with breathing problems."
The factory was loud, noisy, dirty and unsafe, Bonnie Largent said.
A month after a dust explosion on Aug. 2, 2010, Guilford Township Supervisors declared the building to be a "dangerous structure and a public nuisance" and the Commonwealth Code Inspection Service deemed the building unsafe and ordered it vacated.
"We have not rescinded that declaration," township solicitor Sam Wiser said. "The township has not been made aware of any improvements. I think the township will look into the matter and determine what the best course of action is."
Guilford Township Supervisor Greg Cook said the township has no knowledge about any plans that owner Archie Jones may have.
"I have no comment," Jones told a reporter by telephone on Wednesday.
The plant installed safety devices after the 2008 explosions, but a sprinkler system was not turned on the day of the most recent explosion, according to local officials.
The converted feed mill is located down the street from a woodworking shop and a kitchen craftsman. For about five years the factory ground wooden pallets into dust that was compressed into pellets for fuel.
At the time of one of the explosions in 2008, pupils were at recess at Marion Elementary School about 1,500 feet away, Bonnie Largent said. Explosions were rare, but the noise was constant, she said. The machines could start as early as 6 a.m. and sometimes ran until midnight.
"It caused you to be sick worrying about what was going to happen next," she said. "The machines made a loud roaring noise. The sound was a cross between a train running and a jack hammer -- a high-pitched whine that runs through the house, and you can't escape it. A bunch of us have talked to a lawyer about it."
"A lot of people are afraid to voice their opinions," Dawn Largent said.
Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759 and

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.
Thu Feb 2, 2012 3:01am EST
Metso Corporation's press release on February 2nd, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. local time
Metso will supply a pellet-fired heating plant to Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy in the city of Tampere in Finland. The plant will be delivered by the Metso-Wärtsilä joint venture MW Power. The delivery will comprise a full-scope turn-key boiler plant solution, including all the necessary equipment and commissioning. The plant will be Finland's largest pellet-fired plant, based on a technological solution that is the first of its kind in Finland. The value of the order will not be disclosed.
The heating plant will be used as a peak load and backup plant and will replace some of the capacity of the existing oil- and gas-fuelled boiler plants. The plant will be fired with wood pellets and its heat input will be around 33 MW. Replacing the old boilers with a new modern pellet-fired boiler will significantly reduce the CO2 emissions resulting from the production of district heating.
"Our cooperation with MW Power has been smooth. When things started to fall in place concerning the plant's technology, it was clear that MW Power is the right partner for us for this challenging project. It was also important to us that the supplier would commit to the project with the necessary resources. This project will bring new expertise to Finland, and Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy wishes to be at the forefront in sustainable energy generation. District heating has always been an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative and it will remain so in the future as well," says Development Manager Timo Heinonen from Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy.
"It is inspiring to introduce new technology into the market for the first time, and commercial success is naturally our ultimate goal. Previously, peak load plants have been using fossil fuels because there was no other technology available. The technological solution supplied to Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy will bring new opportunities to gear the structure of Finnish district heat production towards the goals of sustainable development," confirms Sales Manager Teemu Koskela from MW Power.
The production of heat at the new plant will start in late 2012. The order is included in Pulp, Paper and Power's first quarter 2012 orders received.
Technical information
Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy's pellet heating plant utilizes a solution that combines pulverized combustion technology with MW Power's boiler expertise. The pellet fuel is pulverized in separate grinding mills and burned in a pulverized combustion boiler. The start-up and load control of the combustion process is remarkably rapid and the pulverized fuel allows for clean, energy efficient and flexible heat generation. Pulverized pellet combustion is new to Finland, but MW Power has been using it in Sweden on a smaller scale.
Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy, a subsidiary of Tampere Power Utility, is responsible for the group's electricity and district heating production, maintenance and development. Increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources is part of the Tampere Power Utility's strategy.
MW Power, a Metso-Wärtsilä joint venture, provides medium and small-scale power and heating plant solutions for sustainable energy generation, focusing on flexible utilization of local renewables, as well as innovative technologies and service capabilities.
Metso is a global supplier of sustainable technology and services for mining, construction, power generation, automation, recycling and the pulp and paper industries. We have about 29,000 employees in more than 50 countries.
For further information, please contact:
Teemu Koskela, Sales Manager, Power business line, Metso, tel. +358 50 400 8721
Jussi Orhanen, Director, Heat & Power plants, Power business line, Metso, tel. +358 50 595 1152
Timo Heinonen, Development Manager, Tampereen Energiantuotanto Oy, tel. +358 40 801 6805

By Luke Geiver | February 01, 2012

Wood pellets offer an opportunity for biomass industry growth in 2012, according to Peter O'Keefe, given factors like wavering support for nuclear power and European utility demands.

The Washington D.C.-based clean energy investment team at Leaf Clean Energy Company has been around since 2007, and according to Peter O’Keefe, director of the company, his team has seen the ups and downs of the market. For 2012, O’Keefe believes the woody biomass market is looking up. During a webinar hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), O’Keefe provided perspective on the growth potential for the biomass sector in 2012, telling listeners that woody biomass “is an area that we think has tremendous promise in the U.S.” With investments in a biomass power facility in Georgia and another in Florida, Leaf Clean Energy is looking for more opportunities, he also said.
The reasoning behind the company’s search for new biomass investment is directly linked to the base load power supply and future changes in that market. “If you look at base load power and the attack that it is under, biomass is absolutely a secure solution for us.” O’Keefe pointed out the recent domestic and global issues with nuclear power and the push by European utilities to use renewable energy resources such as pellets. The wood pellet industry is an area he believes will drive growth in the biomass industry based on Europe’s demand for the product and from census data from 2000 to 2010 that shows wood pellets are the fastest growing home heating fuel over that span. “We are blessed with an abundant biomass resource in the U.S.,” he said.
The undeniable abundance of woody biomass, coupled with the sentiment that biomass project development makes sense even in a tough project financing environment was shared by Michael Zimmer of Thomson Hine LLP and it resonated throughout the entire webinar that included over 150 national attendees. Zimmer pointed out new biomass power transactions and development in Connecticut, Texas, Illinois and California as places that exemplify successful projects, and he outlined a number of factors that will affect the biomass industry in 2012, including EPA regulatory actions on greenhouse gas emissions and the Boiler MACT rules, and, a national carbon market possibility in California. Zimmer also pointed out that roughly 10 states comprise almost 70 percent of the biomass market potential in the U.S., and, that a 2012 farm bill could foster the demand and further growth for energy crops. As for the potential of waste heat recovery and combined heat and power facilities, Zimmer had his own analogy.
“We are the Saudi Arabia of capital innovation, we are the Saudi Arabia of innovative renewable energy development,” and he said, “we are also the Saudi Arabia of waste heat which provides a unique business opportunity.”
Aside from waste heat recovery, O’Keefe shared another opportunity in the biomass industry. For him, wastewater treatment and residual utilization is a “stranded opportunity.” There are over 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S., he explained, and those plants generate 7 million tons of residual matter. Most of the power plants located next to those wastewater facilities, he added, “are very very old,” some of which are over 100 years old. “They are absolutely in need of innovative solutions for dealing with wastewater (and wastewater residuals) for the next century.”
Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association, also participated in the webinar, asking the other participants who included Jordan Collins, formerly with the U.S. DOE and now with ML Strategies, and the project development finance expert John May, managing director at Stern Brothers and Co., “Is the glass half full or half empty in the sector (biomass) at the moment?”
While Collins provided a semi-enthusiastic response pointing to the difficulty with biomass power pricing linked to the low prices of natural gas, May provided a different take. For his response, May said, “Oh, definitely half full.” For May, although the classic biomass power deal is tougher to get right now, his firm is busy working in the pellet market. “We’ve got five or six pellet deals we are working on in the South,” he said, “that is a very interesting area and a very financeable area.”


Have you ever heard of Bob Grillson? Well we hadn’t either but upon researching the name more, we found that Bob Grillson is not a person but rather a grill that allows for an extraordinary barbecuing experience. Little do grillers know that burned meat juice, grease, and charcoal are carcinogenic and could lead to health issues so instead of using briquettes, this grill uses wooden pellets to promote a healthier and safer barbecue by using the clean burning pellets.
The “green” grill creates a great barbecue taste, auto cleans itself after grilling, and is more like cooking in an oven because it can be used to cure and barbeque meats as well as bake a pizza. If you have a laced out crib with a deck and still use a small charcoal grill, get with the times and check out the Bob Grillson


Woodpellets2U, a division of CPL Distribution.

They will be supplied under a contract hire deal that will see the custom-built Feldbinder bodies getting a double life as they are retrofitted to new chassis after six years.

Two 32-tonne DAF CF85-410s, with a capacity of 38,000 litres, and two 26-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor 2533s, with 30,000 litre capacity, will follow the 26-tonne DAF CF75-310, which has served s the pilot test for these Feldbinder silo tankers, thought to be the first of their kind to operate in the UK.

"We are already delivering thousands of tonnes of wood biomass and solid fuels around the country and across Europe, but we wanted to streamline the operation in line with our quest to deliver the highest quality product," comments Tim Minett, CPL Distribution's CEO.

"We had been approached by a variety of outsourced vehicle providers, ranging from truck manufacturers to finance houses, but none could offer a complete package," he continues. "With such specialised and expensive vehicles, we needed a competent supplier used to operating complicated vehicles and one that could put together a complete finance, maintenance and aftercare package."

Minett used to be chief executive of a truck rental and contract hire specialist firm and says Ryder was the only company with the expertise and flexibility to put together such a deal.

"Specifications were drawn up for 26- and 32-tonne tankers, with the chassis supplied on a six-year contract hire agreement, while the Feldbinder tanker bodies will have an extended 12-year double life and be retrofitted to new chassis after the initial six year period," explains Minett.

"Such is the flexibility provided by Ryder that the company was even able to take over ownership of the initial truck we had ordered ourselves and contract hire that back to us," he adds.

Minett says the firm knew it would need specialist trucks to transport and discharge wood pellets, and reveals that it initially looked at vehicles used with animal feed. However, tests revealed that the pellets would be degraded.

"We knew that 40% of energy in Austria is produced from wood biomass, so we looked at how the experts handled it and made contact with a local specialist manufacturer of truck bodies, Feldbinder, which had set up operation in the UK," he recalls.

"We were very impressed by their technical expertise and so ordered one 26-tonne truck to our specification. But we clearly needed a larger fleet of trucks to meet expected demand for our new biomass fuels.

"Overall, Ryder has exceeded our expectations in terms of service delivery to the extent that I've been virtually able to forget about the delivery of these new trucks and focus my attentions on our core business."

By Luke Geiver | February 02, 2012

New Hampshire follows Maine as the second Northeastern U.S. state to include wood pellet pricing data in its weekly energy report.

The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) is now the second state-affiliated energy information provider in the Northeastern U.S. to include average residential pricing for wood pellets used in home heating applications, following Maine, the first to include wood pellet pricing data in its weekly fuel report. As of January 30, 2012, the New Hampshire OEP fuel prices report shows that one ton of delivered wood pellets costs roughly $237. The price used on the OEP report is generated by averaging the price data provided by several wood pellet providers in the state.
The OEP also offers a heating cost calculator that allows a user to calculate the least expensive way to heat a home while also giving the user a better understanding “as to the most economical way to heat your hot water and dry your clothes,” according to the OEP. The calculator shows that using wood pellets provides 80 percent efficiency rates, compared to coal, No. 2 fuel oil or natural gas that all plateau at a 78 percent efficiency rate. The price per million Btu for wood pellets is roughly $18.03, while coal equals $16.98, fuel oil $35.78 and natural gas $13.85.
In Maine, the price per ton of wood pellets for the week of January 30 totaled $236, but more importantly, the Maine Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security (OEIS) outlined the current geopolitical landscape conflicts that might affect home heating costs and consumers in the Northeast region that remains dependent on fuel oil.
“Heating oil prices remained relatively flat,” said OEIS Director Ken Fletcher, for the week of January 30, 2012. “While a potential European Union embargo on Iranian oil and continued threats by Iran to block a key crude oil shipment route hung over the geopolitical scene.” He added that about one-fifth of the global supply of crude oil is shipped through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and any blockade in this area could raise tensions, disrupt world oil supplies and push heating oil prices higher, especially as winter demand rises.

press release
Feb. 6, 2012, 6:00 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Enviva LP ("Enviva"), a leading manufacturer of processed biomass fuel in the United States and Europe, and E.ON, one of the world's largest investor-owned utilities, today announced a multi-year 240,000 metric ton per year wood pellet supply agreement.
"Demand for clean, renewable resources like our sustainably produced wood pellets continues to grow as energy generators invest in alternatives to traditional fossil fuels," said John Keppler, chairman and CEO of Enviva. "Our partnership with E.ON reinforces the economic and environmental benefits achievable from renewable biomass resources in energy production."
"Strong agreements with companies like Enviva that are focused on growing biomass supply and share our views on the importance of promoting sustainability are essential for us to invest in biomass generation," said Jan Groeneveld, manager biomass sourcing at E.ON. "Biomass is one of the lowest-cost renewable solutions available and is a key part of helping us ensure that the lights stay on at a price that is affordable while helping to protect the climate."
The contract begins in early 2013. Enviva will supply the wood pellets from its facilities in the Southeastern U.S., home to some of the world's most abundant and sustainably managed wood baskets.
About Enviva
Enviva's mission is to become the preferred partner and supplier of sustainably sourced wood pellets and other processed biomass to serve power generation and industrial customers seeking to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint. Enviva has been supplying wood chips and wood pellets to customers in the United States and Europe since 2007. Enviva's operating facilities represent more than 750,000 metric tons of annual production capacity, and the company has announced plans to build an additional one million metric tons of capacity in the mid-Atlantic region. For more information about Enviva, including job opportunities, go to .
About E.ON
E.ON is one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies, with annual sales of more than 92 billion Euros and about 85,000 employees. E.ON plays a leading role in the development of the renewable industry worldwide and is already active in onshore and offshore wind technology, concentrating solar power (CSP), photovoltaic and biomass. E.ON currently operates over 8 GW of renewable capacity including large hydro and will invest another 7 billion Euros in renewable generation and climate protection projects over the next five years. E.ON has been named Green Energy Generator of the Year at the 2011 Platts Global Energy Awards. For more information about E.ON, go to .
Enviva Contact: Elizabeth Woodworth+1 (301) 657 5560 x
E.ON Contact: Scott Somerville+44 (2476) 183 438
Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

press release
Feb. 6, 2012, 10:01 p.m. EST
Acquisition adds 110,000 tonne wood pellet production on East Coast for Viridis

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Feb 06, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Viridis Energy Inc. ("Viridis" or the "Company") CA:VRD -2.86% (otcqx:VRDSF), announced today that it has completed the acquisition of certain assets of Enligna Canada Inc., a wood pellet mill operator located in Upper Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia.The assets were purchased from Enligna's Receiver by 3260526 Nova Scotia Limited, a new,wholly owned subsidiary of Viridis (the "Subsidiary").
The acquired assets include 20 buildings on four properties with a total of 157 acres and a separate 22 acre wood lot. The facilities house five pellet presses with the capacity to produce 110,000 tonnes of wood pellets, annually, and is the largest wood pellet manufacturing plant in Atlantic Canada. In addition, Enligna has an established reputation with customers in Europe and key relationships with raw material suppliers.
The Subsidiary obtained a $2.5 million short-term bridge loan (the "Loan") to fund the acquisition. The Loan carries an interest rate of 6% per annum and is repayable onor before March 31, 2012. The Loan is secured by a demand mortgage charging the Subsidiary's assets, as well as secured guarantees granted by Viridis and Okanagan Pellet Company Inc., another wholly owned subsidiary of the Company. The Company intends to repay the Loanusing a more permanent source of funds, the negotiations for which are currently underway.
"We are acquiring a turnkey-ready operation with a skilled workforce on the East Coast of the continent where wood pellet use is highest, not to mention the proximity to seaports for exporting to our European customer base. The business community has been verysupportive of Viridis to date, and we look forward to creating jobs and helping enhance the local economy," said Christopher Robertson, Viridis' chief executive officer, commenting on the acquisition. "We anticipate this acquisition will reduce our final cost of goods delivered to both our East Coast customers as well as our growing industrial customer base throughout Europe. The demand for wood pellets as a fuel source for power generation has expanded overseas in response to government policies requiring renewable energy sources to represent an increasing percent of energy consumption."
Mr. Robertson added, "We expect the plant to be fully operational later this quarter and will resume business as Scotia Atlantic Biomass Company."
About Viridis Energy Inc.
Viridis Energy Inc. CA:VRD -2.86% is a publicly traded, "Cleantech" alternative energy company specializing in the agricultural and wood waste biomass. Headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., Viridis Energy operates Cypress Pacific Marketing, Okanagan Pellet Company and Scotia Atlantic Biomass Companyfocusing on the marketing, distribution and manufacturing of wood pellets and other renewable biomass. For more information on Viridis Energy Inc. please refer to the company website at .

Published on February 7, 2012 at 1:46 AM
By Cameron Chai
Enviva, one of the leading manufacturers of processed biomass fuel in the form of 100% wood pellets in the U.S. and Europe, has entered into a multi-year contract with E.ON, an investor-owned power and gas company, to supply 240,000 metric tonnes of wood pellet per year.
The deal between the companies commences in early 2013 and Enviva will deliver the renewable wood pellets from its Southeastern US plants.
John Keppler, Enviva’s Chairman and CEO, remarked that demand for clean and renewable biomass resources similar to their sustainably sourced wood pellets is continuously growing. The reason for this increased demand is energy producers make investment in efficient alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. The collaboration of both companies enhances the environmental and economical benefits attained from renewable biomass resources used in the production of energy.
Biomass is one of the cheapest renewable sources available in the market. E.ON’s Manager Biomass Sourcing, Jan Groeneveld noted that collaborating with firms like Enviva, who focuses on increasing biomass supply, will help the company to promote sustainability and to invest in renewable biomass generation. E.ON plays a major role in the growth of the global renewable industry and it is currently active in biomass, photovoltaic, concentrating solar power (CSP) and onshore and offshore wind technology.

Published on 01/30/2012

November last year, APX-Endex in cooperation with the Port of Rotterdam launched a new market; the biomass renewable energy exchange.
The first contract listed on this exchange is an industrial wood pellets contract. Rotterdam was chosen for its proximity to key wood pellet consumers in Germany, its accessibility for US exporters, and the ambition of the port of Rotterdam to advance its status as an energy trading hub.
Already in 2008, APX-Endex started publishing an industrial wood pellets index, for which the pricing panel now has 13 members. This index should bring price transparency to an opaque, regionally fragmented market.
Different opinions among market players
The biomass exchange will be launched in two phases. During the first current phase trades will not go through a clearing house and physical settlement is arranged bilaterally by counterparties. Phase two, scheduled to take place during the course of 2012, will include the development and implementation of clearing services for wood pellets contracts.
Talking to several market insiders we learned that they are quite pleased with the index that is published by APX-Endex, because that provides so much needed transparency to the market. About the trading side they were not that outspoken. Although there were orders on the screen, no trades were done yet. Also on the underlying OTC market there were only a few transactions established lately. A spokes woman of the APX –Endex, told Maycroft that they remain optimistic as there is an increased interest from the market participants since the launch of the exchange. They are therefore confident that trading will pick up.
Some market players told us that they expect trading to take off once the clearing will be introduced. Others did have a different opinion. A biomass trader of an European utility, for instance, is of the opinion that the introduction of Clearing is not going to be a game changer. He believes that for trading to take off first a standard contract like the one made up by EFET for power and gas need to be developed. On top of that also the sustainability annex/criteria need to be standardized. Once that is established, market making should be offered via Trayport, where APX-Endex should act as the broker. First after that clearing should be introduced.
European wood pellet market
Looking at the market fundamentals and its future outlook one could identify some interesting features. Today the bulk of the demand for wood pellets comes from Europe, because the European Union has rules requiring member countries to generate 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
But a big hurdle to the development of pan-European renewable product markets is the lack of a common approach among the EU Member States. As a result there exist sharply differing regulatory frameworks, government incentives and local laws across Europe today. Besides today there are only 7 big buyers in Europe, mainly utilities. That number does not look sufficient to get a liquid wood pellet trading market on both the OTC as well as the APX-Endex market.
Global wood pellet market
There are several experts who have expressed their concerns whether there exist enough resources to cover an increasing demand and managing of the trading of wood pellets in a sustainable way. Because it is not only in Europe the market develops. New market areas are starting to develop and large potential users like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand are set to become significant players in the global wood pellet market in the near term. Further it seems fair to assume that Asian-Pacific countries like China, South Korea, Australia, India and Japan will become important actors as well in the next decade or so. Are these countries going to use the Rotterdam based Index as the benchmark in their contracts or will they develop a regional index?
The succes of the exchange depends on the market players
As for most new contracts liquidity will be key and as is described above it remains to be seen whether that will happen to the APX-Endex wood pellet market. There is a historic lesson that could be learned from an earlier initiative between an exchange and the Rotterdam Harbour trading community; the failed attempt to launch an Oil futures market in Rotterdam at the end of the eighties of the last century. That exchange, called the ROEFEX, was a joint venture between the Amsterdam Options Exchange ( now part of NYSE-Euronext) and the Rotterdam Oil Trading community and was forced to close its doors within 2 years after its launch. The Rotterdam oil traders thought that because Rotterdam was and still is the oil trading hub in Europe that they should also facilitate for a futures exchange.
That was a misconception as - despite the interest shown by many important market players -, they were never able to attract enough liquidity to make the exchange a success. Although the reason for the lack of liquidity looks different than that of the wood pellet market. The ROEFEX was in fierce competition with the already successful and liquid IPE (now ICE Futures) in London. However, the main lesson that could be learned was that it is the market players who finally decide whether they will use an exchange and its contracts yes or no. They will only use it when there is sufficient liquidity to ensure an efficient market with the best prices.
The biomass exchange can be a vital first step
That seems to be the big challenge to the APX-Endex. The wood pellet exchange is also a joint initiative between an exchange, the APX-Endex and the Rotterdam Harbour. The Rotterdam companies backing the new initiative are very active in the physical trading of the wood pellets. The question is whether they make the same mistake in their way of thinking as their oil peers 25 years ago or that it is based on real good market fundamentals analysis.
Or should we look at this initiative in the way as expressed by Bert den Ouden , CEO of APX-Endex: "The bottom line is, let's finally start creating a market for renewables. If we want to realise all those targets for renewables in Europe, we should do away with a fragmented market, with preferences for different types of renewables, different subsidies, etc. We should create a unified market and do it in the most cost-effective way. If our biomass exchange can be a first stimulus for that, then I think it has served its purpose." Only time will tell.

Interested to learn more about the wood pellet market fundamentals please go to our Market Intelligence section and learn how we could produce a report for you, or contact Kasper Walet.
Wood pellet production is returning to Upper Musquodoboit and the Port of Halifax will be among the beneficiaries.
Viridis Energy Inc. of Vancouver plans to regularly ship 25,000-metric-tonne loads of wood pellets through the Port of Halifax in a deal announced Tuesday.
Viridis has completed the acquisition of some assets of bankrupt Enligna Canada Inc. and is embarking right away with a transition plan that will see hiring begin within weeks and an immediate resumption of business, as Scotia Atlantic Biomass Co., chief financial officer Michele Rebiere said in an interview.
“This is a significant development for the Upper Musquodoboit area ... and also for the Port of Halifax,” said Rebiere.
The regular, 25,000-metric-tonne shipments to a European customer reflect the plan to focus on bulk shipments of pellets to larger industrial customers in Europe where utilities use pellets for energy generation, she said. A shipment of this size fills the hold of an ocean-going bulk carrier.
“Just to put this into perspective, the previous owners of the plant were moving 6,000-metric-tonne shipments at a time,” she said.
The plant’s previous owners had a good business model that was unfortunately derailed by economic developments in Europe that were beyond their control, Rebiere said. The business went into receivership in August 2011.
Scotia Atlantic Biomass will hold a job fair in a couple of weeks as part of its plan to hire about 25 workers to begin the process of resuming production at the plant.
As many as 60 people could be working at the location in two shifts by spring when the plant is operating at full capacity.
Rebiere said Scotia Atlantic has a lot of logistical work to contend with in the coming weeks to get the mill up and running, and in arranging for required materials and shipping of the finished product to Halifax.
Halifax Grain Elevator Ltd.will play a crucial role in the success of the effort to access overseas markets by storing and handling the pellets.
“We’re especially impressed with the automated system recently installed at the Halifax Grain Elevators that allow for rapid unloading of loads at the location,” Rebiere said.
Scotia Atlantic Biomass does not have any immediately plans to get into the consumer side of the wood pellet business in Atlantic Canada, but will likely pursue this market at a later date, Rebier said.
“This is a significant part of our business across Canada so it’s likely something we’ll be looking at in Nova Scotia,” she said.
The assets of the former Enligna Canada mill were acquired through the receivership process for about $2.5 million. Viridis Energy and subsidiary Okanagan Pellet Company Inc. are contributing additional cash to get the plant up and running again, said Rebiere.
Viridis Energy CEO Christopher Robertson said the company is looking forward to creating jobs and contributing to the Nova Scotia economy.
“The demand for wood pellets as a fuel source for power generation has expanded overseas in response to government policies requiring renewable energy sources to represent an increasing percent of energy consumption,” Robertson said in a news release.

By Mechele Cooper
Staff Writer
GARDINER -- The city will save an estimated $195,000 in heating oil costs during the next 25 years with its new pellet boiler.
The boiler is expected to be running in a month or so.
Gardiner is the first municipality in Maine to use a wood pellet boiler system, according to the Maine Municipal Association.
The boiler, delivered to City Hall on Friday, is the second the city has bought in the last two years.
The city replaced the oil-fired boiler in the public works garage on Brunswick Avenue with a $75,000 pellet boiler in December 2009. The Eco Pellet Heating boiler for the garage was bought from Maine Energy Systems and installed by Heutz Oil Co..
The city got a $61,000 grant for the $122,000 City Hall project as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
City Manager Scott Morelli said the local match for the grant was $61,000, which was included in the 2011 municipal budget. The pellet boiler will replace City Hall's 40-year-old oil-fired boiler.
A 2009 study determined that the pellet boiler would pay for itself in just less than 17 years, based on purchase price, maintenance cost and average heating oil costs of $1.98 a gallon, Morelli said.
Because half the cost of the project was paid for with a grant, the city's actual return on the investment will occur in about 8 1/2 years, he said.
"The cost of oil is much higher than the $1.98 a gallon used in the 2009 study, thus reducing the return on investment by a few more years," Morelli said.
He said the alternative heating system will reduce the city's release of carbon dioxide entering the air.
Morelli said the boiler was manufactured in Bethel and the pellets are made and distributed in Maine.
Mechele Cooper -- 621-5663


STRONG, Maine -- A few years back when the price of heating oil surged, many Mainers flocked to a relatively unknown type of fuel alternative, wood pellets.
As little as five years ago, Maine had just one pellet-producing plant. Today, there are four with plans on the table to build more.
"I think it's very important that the money stays here," said Jeff Allen of Geneva Wood Fuels.
At the plant in Strong, virtually every cent this plant accounts for -- stays here.
Local loggers provide the wood, Mainers manufacture the pellets and unlike foreign oil, the energy these pellets produce fuels Maine's economy.
"Take what used to be a dollar's worth of oil. The minute you write the check, 85 cents left the state," said Tom Wood of the Maine Forest Service.
Wood oversees the more than $11 million federal stimulus program which, since 2009, has helped allow nearly two dozen schools and town office buildings across Maine convert from oil to pellet-burning heat systems.
"We will displace on an annual basis more than 700,000 gallons of heating oil through the one program," said Wood.
In fact, in Strong, three schools, including the elementary school, have just this year switched over.
"We're being able to shrink our energy line in our school budget and school budgets are going down," said Tim Sorel with SAD 58.
"The oil dealers are our friends," said Bill Bell, executive director of Maine Pellets Fuel Association.
Hardly what you might expect to hear from that association. But ultimately, he predicts as more Mainers make the move to pellets, many oil dealers will simply become fuel dealers.
"We're not seeking to put the oil dealers out of business because they will, just as many dealers are now doing, convert to pellets," said Bell.
At full capacity, Maine's four mills could produce some 400,000 tons of pellets a year, though currently they're running about half that.
Still, Geneva's manager believes the recession, a dip in oil prices and some warmer than normal winters have only temporarily stalled the huge demand from five years ago.
"When oil prices go up, people are interested; as they drop back down a little bit, people lose interest. But I think it's here to stay," said Allen.
Wood is convinced pellets are here to stay. He says he's seen the results statewide, money saved, money made and more than enough pellet-producing timber in Maine to sustain the industry for decades.
"It keeps the jobs local. It's a renewable clean, efficient energy source and it gets us off the oil bandwagon," said Wood.
Along with the pellet plant in Strong, pellets are produced in Ashland, Athens and Corinth.

Read more:


February 7, 2012
Source: Germany Trade and Invest
Germany recently passed the 20 percent mark for renewable energy in the electricity mix. The federal KfW bank group has introduced a new plan to further accelerate this shift to renewables, with increases in multimillion euro business loans now available. As more renewable energy is generated, energy management and storage are also receiving increased focus. Germany Trade & Invest, together with representatives of Germany's six E-energy model regions, will be at this year's E-world from February 7-9 in Essen to highlight opportunities for international companies in these growing market segments.
"With such a large share of renewable energy in the mix, it is becoming more urgent to implement smart grid and storage technologies to balance the fluctuating supply. Germany is making an exceptional team effort to achieve our ambitious goals, with businesses, banks, researchers and the government all working together" said Heiko Staubitz, renewable energy expert at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin.
The new KfW plan outlines efforts to ease the financial burden of a wide-ranging shift to renewable energy. Previously, loans were available to small businesses for their efforts to move to renewables, and these have been expanded to cover companies with annual revenue of up to 3 billion euro. At the same time, loans are available to support research and development of energy storage, transmission, production, and efficiency techniques with grants up to EUR 25 million, marking an increase.
In light of last year's decision to phase out nuclear power, Germany is further ramping up investments in renewable energy. Already, Germany features the world's strongest photovoltaic market, with nearly half of all global installations worldwide. In wind power, Germany leads Europe in total installations and is currently preparing for a major expansion in the offshore segment.
Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.


CORINTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's growing wood pellet industry has sparked the interest of some top officials with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dallas Tonsager, the USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development got a tour of the Corinth Wood Pellets plant today from President and CEO George Soffron.

Prior to the tour Tonsager had a rountable discussion with Soffron and the heads of Maine's three other wood pellet manufacturers.

They pressed him about what they see as a bias in Washington towards wood biofuels when it comes to subsidies.

Tonsager did offer assurances that the USDA will help to grow the industry.

"I think there's some things we can do," said Tonsager. "We finance about one fourth of the homes in Maine and so we'll work with homeowners who might be interested in the equipment as we go along so that may be our piece of this. We may be able to finance the distribution system that they want to develop. My agency is equipped to do those kinds of ventures."

The USDA says it has provided about $1.4 million in subsidies so far to Maines four wood pellet manufacturers.

According to federal data, subsidies for wood biomass are far smaller than they are for other bio-fuels such as ethanol, but the public consumption of those fuels is also far smaller.


02/09/2012 Reported By: Jay Field
In Maine, where the high price of fuel oil combined with less federal assistance has left thousands of residents struggling to stay warm, the need for affordable home heating options has never been greater. One solution, argues a 2010 study, lies in the state's forests and at the four plants now producing wood pellets. But while biomass is growing in popularity, industry officials say it's still a largely undiscovered resource that's a long way from being utilized to its full potential.
Narrow plumes of smoke rise above the red, corrugated metal walls of a warehouse north of Bangor. The dump trucks arrive with payloads of wood reduced to chips in the forest. They dump them in piles---not far from a rotating cylinder that looks like a green tootsie roll.

George Soffron, who runs Corinth Wood Pellets, explains: "It's just like a clothes dryer."

Some of the wood chips, Soffron says, go into two 20-million BTU burners that crank out hot air that pulls the rest of the biomass through the dryer. "So it's like having a clothes dryer that burns socks to generate the heat to dry the other socks," he says.

The wood travels into the warehouse where it's converted and and pushed onto an interconnected maze of conveyor belts that end in a waterfall of bullet-shaped pellets, ready for bagging.

On its Web site, the Maine Pellet Fuels Association has this handy converter: You enter the amount of gallons of heating oil you use each winter and calculate what would happen if you switched over to a pellet boiler. A house that uses 1,000 gallons, for example, could potentially save more than $17,000 over 10 years.

The town of Gardiner will soon become the first municipality in the state to switch over to a pellet boiler, a move that will save nearly $200,000 in heating costs over the next 25 years. But despite the clear benefits of moving to pellets, industry officials say business isn't as robust as it could be.

Dutch Dresser's company, Maine Energy System, manufacturers boilers. "Folks just don't understand what's available, generally speaking," he says.

Dresser is sitting at a conference table with other industry leaders and a special guest: Dallas Tonsager is the Undersecretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He's up from Washington to speak with Dresser, George Soffron and others about the state of the industry.

Soffron noted a recent man-on-the-street survey conducted by Dresser's company. "I watched the tapes of that and it brought me to tears because 9 out of 10 people, when they were asked what are the options for heating your home, would say oil, propane, natural gas if its around, which it isn't," he says.

The USDA has provided about $1.5 million in subsidies to the state's four pellet manufacturers. Some around the table asked Tonsager about the possibility of more federal support to raise public awareness. Robert Linkletter, with the Maine Woods Pellet Company, told Tonsager his business needed a system of silos to more easily distribute pellets across the state.

"We're currently delivering up to 150 miles one way to make sure that people who install central heating systems can get fuel," he says. "No one who calls gets refused fuel. Clearly that doesn't make money. But it doesn't advance the industry."

"So a distribution idea, how would you start? Would you form a group, get some private companies to develop distribution?" Tonsager asked.

Linkletter tells him he has a more than $6 million proposal that would put 10 distribution sites throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. It's just one of many ideas Tonsager drove away from the plant with.


Peter Canning of Berlin figures he'll save enough on heating in three years to recoup the $5,000 his new boiler cost. He's participating in the Model Neighborhood Project.
Chris Jensen for NHPR
By Chris Jensen
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A pilot project in Berlin is helping homeowners get sophisticated boilers that are automatically fed wood pellets.
The idea is to persuade people throughout the region that they can save money and say goodbye to oil while bolstering the region’s forest economy.
NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Peter Canning is in basement of his home on a hillside overlooking Berlin.
He’s showing off his new wood-pellet boiler.
“You can open up down in the bottom here. I can show you how the pellets come in if you want to kneel down here and take a peek.”
But this is no ordinary pellet boiler, it’s self-feeding, and even the ash automatically collects in a bin so it can be easily emptied.
It is made by an Austrian company called OkoFEN.
And it’s not cheap.
Canning was able to get one because he is participating in a pilot program in Berlin that heavily subsidized the $18,000 cost.
“With the rebates and all that I received I paid about a little over $5,000 for the boiler. I think the rebates are tremendous and we’re looking at starting to save money now.”
One of those rebates came from a state program using federal stimulus funds.
It was expected to end Feb. 15th. But it is continuing and is offering up to $6,000 to consumers anywhere in the state who buy any brand of bulk-fed, pellet boilers.
But Canning got most of the help by participating in the Model Neighborhood Project.
For that project the City of Berlin has partnered with the Northern Forest Center, Berlin BetterBuildings, and Maine Energy Systems, which imports and assembles the OkoFEN boilers.
The project –which aims to help 40 homeowners - is getting much of its money from tax credits as well as grants.
But the hope for such boilers goes far beyond Canning’s tidy basement.
The hope is that such systems will catch on throughout the region, boosting the economy by replacing oil with a renewable resource – wood pellets.
Mike Wilson is with the Northern Forest Center, the project’s major backer. The Center promotes sustainable forestry.
“Right now the Northern forest states, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, spend about $6 billion a year on fossil fuels and 78 cents out of every dollar we spend leaves the regional economy.”
If more homeowners used wood pellets, those dollars would stay in the region.
But moving beyond the first 40 homeowners and into widespread adoption of these sophisticated, bulk-fed units is the challenge.
Eric Kingsley is an analyst with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, which sometimes consults with the forest industry.
“The pellet boilers tend to be a higher, up front cost than a comparable oil boiler. So there is a capital hurdle.”
The units are sold and maintained by companies trained by Maine Energy Systems.
The least expensive residential OkoFEN is about $11,000, but installation and a storage bin could easily add $6,000.
The Northern Forest Center said it picked the pricey OkoFEN because it was “the most seamless” replacement for an oil unit.
Kingsley says another challenge is the delivery of wood pellets.
“There is a little bit of a chicken and egg dilemma at this point.”
Kingsley says distributors don’t want to invest in equipment because there aren’t a lot of customers.
But customers are nervous about getting deliveries and they don’t want to buy the boilers.
Owners can buy the premium-grade pellets from several companies, but Dutch Dresser, who runs Maine Energy Systems, also sells them.
To encourage OkoFEN sales he says he won’t charge for delivery even to a distant homeowner.
Dresser is also promising OkoFEN purchasers he’ll keep the price of the pellets the same for three years.
“It is $239 a ton which is the equivalent of oil at $1.99 a gallon.”
He says a ton of premium pellets equals the energy in about 120 gallons of oil.
Dresser says he has sold more OkoFENs for commercial use than residences. He thinks that will change, particularly if there is a spike in the price of oil.
But even if there is a big increase in the demand for pellets analyst Kingsley says the region can easily handle it.
It will take some time to tell whether the region is ready to give up oil for wood pellets, something the forestry industry would love.
But back in Berlin Peter Canning plans to save a lot of money.
It is estimated heating with pellets costs about 40 percent less than heating with oil.
And the Model Neighborhood Program is looking for 35 more participants.
For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen.
By David Worthington | February 13, 2012, 8:27 PM PST

A sample of Primus Green Energy's high-octane gasoline.
A start-up sited near the Jersey Shore could soon be producing even more energy than rowdy twentysomethings partying down at the boardwalk by converting tons of wood pellets and grasses into high-octane gasoline.
Primus Green Energy (PGE) is ramping up to build a plant that would turn out over 75 million gallons of biofuel per year. PGE’s facility would be profitable at $60 per barrel of oil, and would be a sustainable domestic source of gasoline, the company says.
75 million gallons is enough energy to keep 10,000 people driving 21 miles per day, said vice president of business development George Boyajian. Making that much biofuel would also involve accumulating 530 tons of biomass annually.
PGE chose wood pellets as its feedstock due to their high BTU content, consistency, and long-term availability, Boyajian said. The pellets would also be sourced domestically in the United States. It will eventually shift to using miscanthus grass.
European power companies are driving demand for wood pellets as a replacement for coal, and lumber mills are responding to slumping housing starts in the U.S by diversifying into the energy industry. There are currently 7 suppliers throughout several regions of the U.S., Boyajian noted.

The PGE biofuel process. (Image Credit: Primus Green Energy)
PGE’s process begins by taking wood pellet, or miscanthus grass, in their peptized form and introducing the feedstock into a gasifier (see the diagram to the right).
That step yields a syngas with higher than normal octane ratio, which is then treated in a commercial scrubber. The syngas is lastly synthesized into gasoline using an off the shelf catalyst. That process, however, is proprietary.
Other byproducts could include jet fuel and plastics, but fuel will build the company. Oil companies are buying up the biofuel to meet the U.S. government’s cellulosic ethanol requirement, Boyajian explained. They are currently being fined millions for not buying it as mandated under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.
Uncle Sam will continue to collect - at least for the time being. PGE will require a $500M investment to scale to 75 million gallons annual capacity, and it would take a few years to build a plant. A plant could be online as soon as 2013.
PGE’s Boyajian noted that the Pearl GTL (gas to liquids) facility in Qatar has cost over $19 billion to build, and said that PGE’s process is a “drop in the bucket” in comparison.
In the near term, PGE will be opening a continuous demo facility in Q4. Its initial output will be 30L per hour, or a barrel of gasoline every five hours. Engineering giant Betchel is PGE’s contractor, and it has already broken ground.
Israel Corp.’s IC Green Energy had invested over US$40M into PGE, and PGE anticipates that it will take at least another $40M in its next round after its capital expenses are proven out, Boyajian said. It currently has 40 employees.

Staff Writer

CONCORD – In a sign of continuing inroads made by wood pellets in the state, their price is now being tracked by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, alongside traditional heating fuel sources such as oil, natural gas and propane.
The information about average statewide costs for bulk-delivered fuels is derived from a survey of five companies providing bulk pellet delivery service in New Hampshire. It shows that wood pellets are far cheaper than heating by heating oil or propane, although more expensive than natural gas.
This week, 1 million BTU’s of heat cost: natural gas ($13.50), cord wood ($17.50), wood pellets ($18.03), No. 2 heating oil ($34.97), kerosene ($39.56), electricity ($41.50) and propane ($46.86).
Pellets are made from compressed sawdust. Their uniform size and shape allows their delivery into a furnace to be automated, as compared to logs, so that heating can be controlled by thermostats, as with fossil fuels.
Although best known as a source for individual stoves, pellets or a similar product, wood chips, can be fed by augers into whole-house boilers or industrial-sized machines that can heat schools or factories.
The region’s biomass producers say pellets and wood chips could ultimately provide up to 20 percent of New Hampshire’s heat, compared to the current figure of about 4 percent.
The industry claims that nearly 5 percent of New Hampshire homes heat with wood pellets or other renewable energy. Heating uses nearly 40 percent of New Hampshire’s energy.
The federal Stimulus Funds Rebate Program is kick-starting the switch to wood pellet central heating in homes by offering rebates of up to 30 percent or up to $6,000 of installed cost for systems for primary residences.
Information about the residential wood pellet rebate program is on the Public Utilities Commission website:
David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or


At the recent conference on bioenergy in Moscow the participants from Russia and European countries were discussing a number of important issues.
The agenda was viability and profitability of production of bioproducts. The interest was unfolding in the initiative of small and medium-sized businesses, in the amount of investment and number of large enterprises in the market of alternative energy.
All participants agreed that the active role of alternative energy gradually fades away. Thus, over the past 10 years the number of alternative investments in the economy has increased by almost 20 times. However, the expectations of investors are likely to be only partially met.
One of the largest factories for the production of biomass is located in a small village of the Leningrad Region. Many businesses either close or launch another activity. Why is this happening? Experts note that there are several reasons: illogic business plans, too high price for the products, technical problems, etc.
Many people wonder about the future of the market of pellets, briquettes and biogas. The specialists say that by 2020 the market for alternative fuels will increase by 30 million tons, compared with 15 million tons in 2010. The most profitable business is the production of wood pellets and briquettes. Cheap raw materials, demand for it inside the country and abroad makes production of these biofuel popular. The reconstruction of the existing heating systems for the use of biofuel is also needed.


BRASHER FALLS — St. Lawrence Central School officials are beginning to discuss alternatives in case the plan to convert from heating oil to natural gas falls through.
District taxpayers in December had approved an $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to make the conversion after the new St. Lawrence Gas line went by the district during its expansion into Franklin County. But the St. Lawrence Gas project has now been delayed.
Plans call for a 48-mile natural gas pipeline to stretch from Norfolk to the village of Chateaugay in Franklin County, passing by the school district along the way. But construction initially scheduled to start in June 2011 has been pushed back again because of an unanticipated increase in construction costs. St. Lawrence Gas officials had originally expected to spend $9.2 million for the work, but now expect to pay double what originally was allocated for the construction.
While St. Lawrence Central School officials wait to see what will happen, they’re talking about other options in case the project doesn’t go as planned.
“I have been in fairly constant contact with St. Lawrence Gas,” Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said, noting company officials were “still cautiously optimistic” about moving ahead.
He said the board of directors for St. Lawrence Gas is expected to meet in late February or early March and could make their decision about the project then.
Meanwhile, Mr. Putman said, they continue to meet with the district’s architects and engineers to look at other possibilities if the natural gas project doesn’t come through as planned.
“Heating is a big issue,” he said.
He noted the cost of fuel oil is $33.25 per 1 million BTUs, while natural gas is $17.50, wood pellets is $18.86 and LP gas is $37.75.
While they had explored converting to wood chips, that plan was rejected because “the cost of constructing a wood chip heating plant is much greater than the cost of natural gas,” Mr. Putman said.
With wood pellets, however, the cost of construction is less, as are ongoing maintenance expenses compared to wood chips, according to the superintendent.
The district could also explore energy performance contracts, which it has done in the past, he said.
“I think it’s still important that we moved forward with energy savings in heating. I would prefer it be natural gas,” Mr. Putman said.
As part of the capital project, district officials had planned to remove 1950s-era steam lines and heating units in the original building and replace them with more energy-efficient hot water units.
Diesel electric generators will also be replaced with a natural gas electric generator that will be used for “peak shaving” of electricity demand when school is in session, and can also be used as an emergency generator.
The project will also allow the school to replace its current electrical panels, which are so old that repair parts are hard to find.
District officials also hope to see energy conservation through improvements made to the pool area at the elementary school. New dehumidification equipment will be installed that will use much less energy, and warmth from the air in the pool room will be captured and used to heat the pool. The project will also address maintenance issues, such as pipes, pumps and filters that are at the end of their useful life.
All kitchen appliances will also be converted to natural gas, saving the district more money.
The district had envisioned submitting its plans to the state Education Department in two phases for approval. The first phase would strictly deal with the conversion to natural gas in an effort to meet the next heating season.
“I’m hopeful by the March board meeting I’ll have something permanent. I’m not quite as concerned about the timeline now,” Mr. Putman said.
By David Robinson
Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel
STRONG -- A wood pellet mill is expected to reopen in the next few days after a fire broke out early Thursday morning and damaged the plant, where 21 people work.

click image to enlarge
FIRE IN STRONG: Workers watch as smoke billows from the Geneva Wood Fuels plant on Thursday morning. A fire started on the third floor about 8 a.m. and the wood pellet mill, where 21 people work, is expected to reopen in the next few days, company officials said.
Staff photo by David Robinson
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Travis Viles was working alongside another man inside the Geneva Wood Fuels plant when they noticed hot embers falling from the ceiling about 8 a.m., just before smoke began filling the room where the men were bagging wood pellets.
They alerted other workers and the 10 employees ran out of the building on Norton Hill Road to safety. Emergency responders started to arrive shortly after the evacuation and several firetrucks, including two ladder trucks from area fire departments, were called to the scene.
Viles watched as firefighters scrambled up ladders, cutting holes into the building's façade and dousing flames shooting from the roof of the plant where he has worked for five months.
Other plant workers stood nearby and silently watched as smoke billowed from the plant, which is across the street from a store, gas station and the town's community center.
Viles, 18, believes the plant has been vital in keeping people in town, calling it the first "real job" he was able to find. He shared his fear of finding another job.
"I was just getting started," Viles said.
About 50 firefighters from area departments responded to the scene, with fire hose teams working on the roof, inside the plant and from ladder trucks to extinguish the fire by around 10:30 a.m., Strong Fire Chief Duayne Boyd said.
Geneva Wood Fuels, the company that owns the pellet mill, planned to start its cleanup and repair work Thursday night at the plant, where fire damage was mostly contained to the roof. The plant's equipment is expected to keep producing pellets for its hundreds of customers throughout New England, a company official said.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating to determine what caused the fire, which is not considered suspicious. Investigators believe the fire started in an empty storage section of the plant that was built after an explosion at the pellet mill in 2009, Boyd said.
The explosion in August 2009 closed the plant for almost a year and Geneva Wood Fuels made a variety of safety precautions after the incident, according to Justin Moran, director of sales and marketing for the company.
Moran would not discuss details of the explosion, saying the company's chief executive officer Jonathan Kahn will be available Monday for further comment on the issue.
The company paid a $15,000 for workplace safety violation citations issued after the 2009 explosion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
William Coffin, the federal labor agency's area director in Maine, said Thursday that the violations were addressed and fixed after the company worked with the agency's investigators. The federal agency initially sought $27,000 in fines from the company before agreeing to the lower penalty, he said.
Moran wrote in an email that the plant implemented the safety precautions recommended by the federal agency and an independent fire safety consultant. He added that the company believes its fire safety systems and policies are state-of-the-art compared to other facilities in the wood pellet industry.
The company plans to conduct an internal review of Thursday's fire. The review seeks to determine a cause and find "ways to be even better prepared for incidents like this in the future," Kahn wrote in a prepared statement.
David Robinson -- 861-9287
By Lisa Gibson | February 23, 2012

Advanced Bio Heat Co. has developed a wood pellet-fired forced-air furnace that offers more than eight times the British thermal units of typical forced-air furnaces sold in the U.S., according to the company. Advanced Bio Heat expects the system to bolster wood pellet markets and boost business by supplying mills with a steady requirement for stocking inventory during the summer months.
The furnace, designed with the help of WoodMaster Manufacturing Co. in Red Lake Falls, Minn., ranges from 450,000 to 850,000 Btu, compared with the 100,000 Btu available in the U.S. today, according to Advanced Bio Heat. Many furnaces require heat exchangers using hot water piping converted to forced air, but the new system is capable of producing heated air volumes directly in the appliance and blowing the air into the ducting. The system also includes low-profile feedstock hopper modules that can store 8,000 pounds each of wood pellets. The modules consist of a small steel bin on the bottom and a 1-ton super sack in the upper bin.
“It builds very quickly a market for us during the slow time in the summer, stocking customer’s inventories,” said Jerry Brown, marketing and sales manager for Wisconsin-based pellet producer Great Lakes Renewable Energy. “Our local objective is the agricultural growing barns.” The wood pellet industry can tag along with the furnace system’s development and create a high-quantity market, he added. “My intentions are to emphasize the customer get his supply during the summer with the easy-to-store super sack concept on-site for use during the winter months. If they wait until late fall they simply won't get the pellets while we’re answering the call for our residential premium market.”
Great Lakes Renewable Energy has been a supporter of the furnace, already supplying pellets to a similar but non forced-air unit at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn. The first U.S. application of the large forced-air system will be developed in Becker, Minn. For more information on the system, click here.


The potential of wood pellet production in Europe is huge but it is realized only by 61%. According to the analysts, the performance capacity has increased by 3% last year compared to the previous year.
Among the most active countries which produce wood pellets in the EU are Italy, Germany, Sweden and Austria. At the end of last year there were produced 7.9 million tons of wood pellets in Europe.
Another major manufacturer and supplier of pellets is Russia with a total volume of 1.05 million tons of wood pellets per year.
Production capacities of the European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and others) are great, but every year they import significant quantities of fuel pellets.
In 2011 the EU consumed about 11.4 million tons of wood pellets from its own reserves. The missing volumes were offset by foreign purchases.
Austria and Germany were able to meet the needs of the population and enterprises in pellets and the remainder were exported to other European countries.

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27 February 2012 Last updated at 09:07 ET


About 100 firefighters are tackling a severe blaze at the power station
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A huge blaze which broke out at a power station in Essex, in an area containing about 4,000 tonnes of wood pellets, is still being tackled by firefighters.
There was concern about the structure of the building at Tilbury Power Station, as water sprayed on the pellets was increasing their weight.
But firefighters have since gone into the heart of the blaze with foam spray to deprive the fire of oxygen.
Plant owners RWE power said: "All our employees have been accounted for."
'Hugely challenging'
Essex chief fire officer David Johnson said it was proving "physically and technically challenging" to bring the fire under control but this could be achieved by mid-afternoon,
"We were able to establish it (the building) was safe so we put a few crews in."
At the scene
Ben Ando BBC News
The smoke is clearing at Tilbury B power station in Essex.
Firefighters are increasingly confident that they are getting on top of a blaze in two of the large hoppers that feed biomass wood pellets into the furnace.
It's hot, dirty work and they need to wear breathing apparatus and protective suits. Visibility is also low.
Power station engineers are working with senior fire officers to decide the best way to tackle the blaze.
Normally they would use water but there were fears that the weight of water needed would cause the hoppers to collapse.
Nonetheless even when the fire is out it will take several days to clean up the burned out hopper and repair any damage caused.
They reported back on the conditions they found.
"We're applying specialist high-expansion foam which we hope will starve the fire of oxygen. This won't cause the structural problems that putting water on it would.
"It's very hot and it's very smoky in there and we still have fears for safety should the building collapse.
"Assuming our tactics work, the bulk of the fire should be extinguished within the next two or three hours.
"Then it's about whether the fuel is continuing to burn within the hoppers under the foam blanket - that could take anything up to about a day or two to extinguish.
"This is a hugely challenging fire. I've only been to another one of this kind once before in my 24-year career."
More than 120 firefighters, 15 fire engines, three aerial ladder platforms and a mass foam attack unit have been tackling the fire.
'No dangerous chemicals'
Extra fire crews were called in from London and further afield to deal with a separate unrelated fire in a wood pile on a nearby dockside.
Talking about the power station fire, witness Robert Richards told BBC Essex: "The whole of that north block just went completely up in flames.
"It was on two sides that I could see. My daughter could see it from the other side of the river."
Tilbury Power Station was built to burn coal but was recently granted consent to burn biomass fuel and wood materials.
Biomass plants burn wood pellets, generally made from compacted sawdust or other wastes.
Mr Johnson said it was too early to say what caused the blaze.
Firefighters said it was a technically challenging fire
"Thankfully nobody has been hurt," he said. "We initially believed there were personnel from the power station missing but all have been accounted for, so everyone is safe," he said.
"The smoke that's being given off is very similar to what you get from a bonfire, there are no dangerous chemicals involved, no pipes or liquids involved."
John Kent, leader of Thurrock Council, praised the efforts of fire crews.
"Because it's in the process of being converted [to biomass], there shouldn't be any lasting impact to the National Grid and no shortage of power as a result," he said.
"We just have to wait until the fire is under control and see what the situation is and how much damage has been done. "
'No idea'
Nigel Staves, power station manager said that it looked like only the north end of the power station was affected.
The power station has already begun an investigation into the cause of the fire, which is likely to last several weeks.
"Until we can actually get in to see the damage and understand what happened we have no idea how the fire started at the moment," Mr Staves said.
"The bunkers are very strong, made of strong steelwork, designed to hold 1,000 tonnes of coal.
"Until we can assess how many of the bunkers were on fire it will be difficult to say how much damage we have, but I'm hoping it is more superficial."
He hoped power could be generated from the unaffected south end of the site, possibly once the fire was out.
"It could be two or three days, it could be a week. It will depend on the investigation when we go in and see the damage," he said.
Tilbury supplies the National Grid with less than 1% of the total electricity production in the UK.
"As soon as we shut the power station down this morning, another power station was started to replace that energy. That will continue until we get Tilbury back on-line," Mr Staves said.
A "minimal" number of staff remain on site in the control room working alongside the firefighters.

Feb 28, 2012 5:01am
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Preliminary findings from University of Southern Maine researchers have linked wood stoves and pellet stoves with potential indoor air quality problems.

The team of faculty and students began its work last spring, examining indoor airborne smoke and ash particles from firewood and wood pellets.
Researchers found traces of at least 10 heavy metals in wood and pellet ash, including copper, arsenic and lead. Joseph Staples, one of the principle investigators, says most of the particles were stirred up when cleaning out the ashes, not while the stove is in operation.
The health risks are uncertain. Staples says the exact numbers are difficult to quantify because little research has been conducted.


INVESTIGATORS believe the huge fire at Tilbury Power Station could have started on a conveyor belt.
The power station in Fort Road, which employees about 230 people, was out of action yesterday, and is likely to remain so for several days as firefighters continue their efforts to keep the smouldering fire under control.
It comes as the Environment Agency said it would investigate the cause of the fire at the plant and whether its operator had complied with the conditions of its environmental permit.

The blaze broke out in two biomass storage tanks – known as hoppers – at the power plant on Monday morning, but was brought under control by the late afternoon. More than 80 firefighters worked through the night to tackle the inferno using special foam, at what is the biggest biomass power station in Europe.
They also had to remove thousands of tonnes of wood pellets from the affected area.
RWE npower, operator of the power station, has launched an investigation, but initial reports suggested the fire could have broken out on a conveyor belt where woodchips are carried, before going into a vat to be burnt.
A spokesman said: “We have begun a full internal investigation to determine the cause of the incident and will be reviewing the extent of the damage to the station over the coming days.

“We just can’t speculate at the moment when production will begin again, but as soon as we can get in and assess the damage we will have a clear idea. But people should not be concerned there will be a power shortage.”
For around 40 minutes yesterday production resumed at the plant, but this was only to clear some of the clogged up hoppers and it was powered down soon afterwards.
Adam Eckley, Essex’s deputy chief fire officer, said his crews faced painstaking work overnight.
He said: “Operations overnight looked at moving the affected biomass out of those two bunkers away from the site, but it was frustratingly slow progress, unfortunately.
“It is expected it could take up to two days for the embers to be removed.”
At the height of the drama, more than 120 firefighters were involved in the operation while crowds of onlookers gathered along Tilbury and even Gravesend riversides to watch huge plumes of smoke rise hundreds of feet into the air above the station.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said the site’s environmental permit meant it had to have plans prepared for such emergencies, but would not comment any further as the cause of the fire is not yet known and its investigation has not begun.

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Posted March 02, 2012, at 8:46 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Under questioning Thursday by Sen. Susan Collins, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shawn Donovan agreed to update federal guidelines to classify wood pellet boilers as an “acceptable” primary heating source for the purpose of Federal Housing Authority financing.
Until now, HUD has not considered a wood pellet boiler system as a conventional primary heating source, which Collins says has made it hard for homeowners to obtain FHA financing and has discouraged homeowners from considering alternatives to heating systems that rely on fossil fuels.
“Maine is the most heavily dependent of any state in the nation on home heating oil,” Collins told Donovan. “When you see the spikes in oil prices we have seen this year — and the cutbacks in the LIHEAP — it is causing tremendous hardship for so many families.
“Many families are looking for reliable affordable alternatives. The wood pellet boiler industry is growing quickly and it has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Maine,” Collins said.
Collins said wood pellet manufacturing, boiler technology and pellet delivery systems have progressed dramatically since the days of scooping pellets from a plastic bag into a small stove every couple of hours. Industry leaders indicate that newly developed pellet boiler systems can reliably maintain a constant level of heat in a home without direct human intervention.
To that end, she said, “It is appropriate for HUD to update its regulations and consider wood pellet boiler systems as an acceptable conventional heating source.”
Donovan said Collins was “absolutely right” and said HUD will update its rules based on the improved technology.
“There are moments when the federal government, and government in general, can be a little bit behind the cutting edge in terms of new technology,” he said. “I’m happy to report that wood pellet stoves are an acceptable heating system for homes under our insurance program as long as they meet the qualifications that any heating systems has to meet.”
The updated regulations can be seen at HUD’s website at

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