New Brunswick

Wood pellet shortage frustrates pellet stove owners

With extremely cold weather hitting most of the province, many New Brunswickers who rely on pellet stoves to heat their homes are finding it harder to find the wood pellets they need for fuel.

Sudden cold weather and increased popularity in pellet stoves playing a role in the shortage

Mike O’Donnell, President of Marwood Ltd. says the wood pellet industry is still recovering from last year's cold winter. (CBC)

With extremely cold weather hitting most of the province, many New Brunswickers who rely on pellet stoves to heat their homes are finding it harder to find the wood pellets they need for fuel.

Many retail stores in the are having a hard time keeping the wood pellets in stock.

One Canadian Tire Store in Saint John put 100 bags of pellets out Monday. Manager Randy Richards says they were sold out in about an hour.

He says the sudden cold weather and increased popularity in pellet stoves are playing a role in the shortage.

"It's a higher demand. Over the last two or three years we've seen a huge influx with pellet stove sales and that goes throughout the community," he said. "Without saying, people are looking for an alternate means of heating sources."

Mike Burchill has experienced a pellet shortage before. When he first got his pellet stove seven years ago, when the shelves were bare, he managed to borrow some from a friend until more came in.

This year Burchill wasn't about to be caught off guard.

Many stores sold out

"Just about two to three days ago, I went and loaded up 10 bags and they seemed to have some in stock, but from what I'm hearing now there's another shortage," he said.

At many stores, pellets are now sold out. Richards says with so many people looking for pellets, some customers are desperate.

"There's a little bit of frustration there because people have gone out and purchased their stoves with the expectation that they would have the pellets available. So they are getting them, it's just a little slower than traditional," he said.

Marwood is one of the province's wood pellet producers. President Mike O'Donnell says they just don't have the raw materials needed to keep up with demand.

"Last year's cold winter has spilled over into this year," he said. "People bought pellets all summer long, bought them all fall. And here we are in the deep freeze with lots of snow, so there is more demand than there is supply."

O'Donnell says the struggle is province-wide.

"It's a very difficult situation and we don't envy it. But it's been a real challenge this year and I know all of the producers here in the province are struggling to get the production they need," he said.

O'Donnell suggests people low on pellets call their local retailer and get on a waiting list for when stock comes in.

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