Armstrong plant stops bagging heater pellets, Shuswap retailers search for alternatives

Pinnacle Renewable Energy still selling pellets by the ton but won’t make 40 lb. bags

Shuswap residents who rely on pellet stoves may have to change what they heat their homes with this winter.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy, which has a location Armstrong, will no longer be selling the heating pellets in 40-lb. bags.

Tara Sadler, a territory sales manager with Pinnacle, said bagging is being discontinued indefinitely due to a mechanical breakdown and safety concerns with bagging machinery. She said pellets will still be for sale in one metric tonne totes.

Sadler said the totes use less plastic than the bagged product, and that the totes themselves are recyclable and can be repurposed for other uses. She said outdoor storage is not recommended for the totes of heater pellets.

Brad DeMille, owner of DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm, sells Pinnacle pellets and is forecasting a shortage for the upcoming winter with Pinnacle no longer selling the 40 lb. bags.

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DeMille said many of his customers who buy the pellets depend on them for heat as they are off the natural gas grid. He recommended those customers reliant on the heating pellets be well organized and buy ahead of the first cold snap.

There are alternative sources for bagged pellets, but DeMille said shipping costs are a barrier and purchasing from an American source, rather than supporting the B.C. forestry industry, is not appealing to him.

DeMille also expressed concerns with storage options for pellets purchased in bulk as they become unusable if exposed to too much moisture.

Salmon Arm’s Home Hardware location is also anticipating a crunch resulting from no more bagged pellets coming out of the Armstrong facility. Contract sales manager Bob Eckland said the bagged pellets from Pinnacle will be missed by some of his clients due to their cheaper price point and some customers’ preference for pellets made from fir over other wood.

“I got three trucks to start the year, it won’t be enough. It could be some problems down the road – I’m sure it’s going to be,” Eckland said.

He expects the first major cold snap will put a major dent in the 3,000 bag supply of Pinnacle pellets Home Hardware has in stock.

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Eckland said he has always preferred to buy from a local supplier. The other variety of bagged heater pellets Home Hardware stocks, Clean Burn, ships from Washington State. Eckland added Home Hardware sells the American pellets for $1 more per bag.

He said it is unlikely Home Hardware will be able to stock the one-ton totes, but they could order one in for customers who don’t want to stop using Pinnacle’s pellets.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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