Wood pellet supplier expects production by September

Manufacturing

Published on January 10, 2009
Roy Crawley, manager of the Home Hardware outlet in Manuel's, Conception Bay South, is shown by eight of the Drolet (Wood) Pellet stoves on the showroom floor in the C.B.S. business Wednesday afternoon. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

People with freshly installed wood pellet stoves will have to wait until next season to get a supply of pellets made in Newfoundland, according to Rex Philpott, owner of Cottlesville Lumber.

The provincial government ann-ounced a rebate program for the stoves on Nov. 5, saying the Cottlesville plant would be producing pellets within weeks. The program ends in February.

People with freshly installed wood pellet stoves will have to wait until next season to get a supply of pellets made in Newfoundland, according to Rex Philpott, owner of Cottlesville Lumber.

The provincial government ann-ounced a rebate program for the stoves on Nov. 5, saying the Cottlesville plant would be producing pellets within weeks. The program ends in February.

Philpott says that's true, the company did do its first test run a week later, but it discovered it needed to buy an expensive dryer to get the right moisture content in the pellets.

"I don't think we'll be doing commercial pellets this winter," Philpott says. "We're getting ready for the next season."

He says the company had to buy the dryer from a company in China, and it isn't expected to arrive in Newfoundland until early March.

"We're hoping to be up and running to take care of the Newfoundland and Labrador market at least by the next heating season. We've got a line of Canadian pellet stoves built in Canada, so we'll be selling stoves, residential furnaces, residential boilers and commercial boilers," he says.

Roy Crawley, manager of Home Hardware in Manuels, has a whole line of wood pellet stoves ready for sale, but there's no bags of pellets to be had, not at his store or anywhere else on the island, he says.

Home Hardware and a number of other stores around the island ordered in wood pellet stoves after the government announced a $1,000 to $1,500 rebate to people installing the stoves or furnaces in their houses.

The energy-efficient systems are run by filling a hopper in the back with dried pressed-wood pellets.

"There was plenty of interest in the program in the beginning, but it did take a downturn when people started to realize there was no supply," Crawley says.

"If you were going to buy a new car and you knew there was going to be no gas to go in it, would you go out and buy it?" he says.

Home Hardware originally sold pellets, but the supply came from Nova Scotia.

"We have backorders on top of backorders for customers, that as soon as something becomes available now they want them. I've had customers call and say OK, I'm down to my last five bags, that's going to give me about 10 days worth of heat, after that you're back to electric heat," Crawley says.

Bruce Emberley, the owner manager of Emberley Electrical and Plumbing Supplies also sells pellet stoves.

He says it would make sense for the provincial government to extend its rebate program past February because the supply of pellets has severely prohibited people from converting their home heating.

"What the government is trying to do is get the forestry industry going on the pellet plants, and part of the way they're going to do it is by having more pellet stoves out there. But I guess they will extend it because in their budget they allowed so much money, and if the money's not gone by the end of February they could keep going," Emberley says.

nbell@thetelegram.com