BANGOR, Maine — As winter fast approaches, Maine pellet fuel manufacturers are still trying to reassure homeowners that supply is not an issue.
While many retail suppliers of pellets have been running out shortly after shipments arrive, William Bell with the Maine Pellet Fuels Association said the fuel is continuously being produced. He said the problem has been people who are buying all their pellets at once, a trend that has created the illusion of a shortage.
“Were consumers to buy heating oil in this manner, expecting the entire winter’s supply to be delivered in September, there would also appear to be an oil shortage,” Bell said. “But we’re cranking out the pellets. There is enough — maybe not enough for people to get their entire order today — but there is enough.”
According to the association, Maine manufacturers are producing five times as many pellets this year as they did last year and are expected to double production again within six months.
“The Maine manufacturers will be manufacturing pellets every day all winter long,” said George Soffron of Corinth Wood Pellets, who added that pellets produced in Maine are sold almost exclusively in Maine.
The association also has been trying to dispel rumors that Maine’s wood supply cannot meet increased needs for pellets. According to Gov. John Baldacci’s Wood to Energy Task Force, of the 18.6 million tons of wood that were harvested in 2006, only about 2 percent was converted to pellets. That number is likely to increase slightly, Bell conceded, but certainly not enough to create shortages in other wood-related industries.
In the meantime, he said, the pellet fuels association urged consumers to be smart and respectful about their buying habits as the winter progresses.
“We’d all be better off requesting delivery two or three times a winter, even if it means a little extra handling,” Bell said.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the Maine Pellet Fuels Association at 752-1392 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.