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Pinnacle Renewable Energy temporarily stops operations at Quesnel pellet facility

Pinnacle Renewable Energy, a Canadian wood pellet producer, said it will curtail operations at its British Colombia pellet plant with immediate effect.

According to media reports, there are a number of factors that have gone into the decision to stop production at its Quesnel mill. Key among them are that the plant, first opened in 1988, was designed to process a diet of dry residuals from the local sawmills.

“That source of fibre is no longer available,” said Leroy Reitsma, president of Pinnacle. “As a result, there is currently no secure, sustainable, economically available fibre to support the operation of the Quesnel mill.”

The Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has created an inventory of standing timber that, while useless as sawlogs, is suitable for wood pellet manufacturing. So Pinnacle will continue to work with tenure holders and the provincial government to determine whether secure access to non-sawlog standing timber can be achieved within an economically viable framework.

However, significant capital upgrades are also necessary at the Quesnel plant in order to be able to economically, efficiently and safely process this new fibre source into wood pellets.

“We believe it makes sense right now to take the time to do the analysis required to determine the scope and feasibility of making those upgrades. This period of curtailment is necessary to do that work,” said Reitsma.

“We share our employees’ desire for certainty,” he added. “We have not come to this decision lightly and will be working to minimize the duration of this decision to nine to ten months.”