Maine’s wood pellet heat suppliers today reassured homeowners that unlike propane and natural gas, fuel from Maine’s woods is “in assured supply, at stable prices.”

The Maine Pellet Fuels Association statement emphasized that “we take no satisfaction in the challenges facing Maine homeowners and businesses confronting volatile natural gas prices, the continued high price of oil, and the limited supply of propane”. The Association’s Executive Director, William Bell, noted that “part of our own home is heated by propane, and it seemed like a good idea when the house was built ten years ago.”

But Bell was critical of the response of the Propane Gas Association of New England to the recent NBC news report of the current propane shortage. A statement about “waterborne imports are scheduled to arrive over the next several weeks” is scant reassurance,” Bell stated. “In fact, this statement points out the real problem. We are importing propane from overseas, at two-and-a- half times the price of pellets, and we have such an abundant and underutilized Maine pellet supply that there is talk of exporting to Europe.”

Bell noted that according to the Governor’s Energy Office, the cost of propane is up almost 25% since the beginning of the heating season. “The cost of pellets, which is about half the price of heating oil, has remained virtually unchanged for the past five years, and will remain as stable as the Maine woods.”

The Pellet Fuels Association commended Efficiency Maine for the its current program of $5,000 rebates to homeowners installing pellet boiler systems, and also commended Governor Paul LePage for his January 21 letter to legislators urging them to “accelerate a transition to more affordable heating systems.”