By Dan Bross – Alaska Public Radio Network
A Fairbanks wood pellet manufacturer, is positioned to capitalize on the spike in oil prices. Superior Pellet Fuels opened a plant off the Richardson Highway south of Fairbanks last fall. Company General Manager Chad Shumacher says the new mill has been running at less than 50 percent capacity as it works out kinks in the operation.
The pellet mill is turning waste wood from tree clearing into 300 tons of pellets per week. The pellets fuel specialized stoves and boilers, but have been slow to attract interest due to moderate oil prices in recent years. Schumacher anticipates more demand for pellets due to oil’s recent spike.
Pellet appliances burn cleaner than traditional wood stoves, and Shumacher says the local fine particulate pollution problem is also expected to drive demand for pellets. He says wood pellets are also being considered as an alternative fuel for coal fired power plants at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and local military bases.