Pellet stove owners feeling the chill of fuel shortage

By Joe Moskowitz
It may be difficult for some people to pay for heating fuel this winter, but for those who use wood pellets to heat their homes, the problem could be even worse. Local retail outlets that sell wood pellets are running out of them.
Keith O’Brien sells all kinds of stoves at the Tinderbox in Fleischmanns. He also sells wood pellets, when he as any, but he said he has had to turn away his own customers of late. He has ran out of pellets to sell and is hoarding what he has in order to heat his own building.
O’Brien said it is not unusual, running out of pellets can occur during rough winters and he warns customers not to depend on wood pellet stoves as their primary heating source because there isn’t a guaranteed supply
He said he could get more but only needs a few tons to get through the heating season. However, distributors will only sell tractor-trailer loads and he would have to store much of it until next winter. He has neither the space, nor does he want to spend that kind of money.
He did say pellets are available in the area, in fact, close to him in Fleischmanns. Wadler Bros. recently received a shipment. But if the cold weather persists, even the “big boys” will have a problem. Tractor Supply Company (TSC) in Delhi said it has several tons left, but they are going fast. Some of Tractor Supply’s other stores are out of pellets and the entire company won’t be getting any more this year. A TSC worker told the News, “If you want some, you better hurry.”
O’Brien said that while it may be a little late for people who have already purchased a pellet- burning stove, the best bet it to buy a multi-fuel furnace, one that burns either corn or pellets. He said corn burns hotter and is more readily available. Burning corn helps out Schoharie Valley farmers who grow the grain.
There is one down side to burning corn. O’Brien said it’s higher sugar content literally gums up the works, requiring more cleaning than wood pellets. But, at least, the supply is plentiful.