Job Smart

Pellets create Canadian jobs

The wood pellet industry already employs thousands across Canada in manufacturing, harvesting and transportation. It has the potential to create many more thousands of jobs across Canada by replacing more expensive and less sustainable heating fuels.

There are already some great examples of the industry thriving locally. Ontario Power Generation’s Atikokan Generating Station near Atikokan, Ont., converted from coal to wood pellets in 2012 and was in service by July 2014 . Pellets are sourced from local mills in Ontario, creating direct jobs and supporting the viability of the local forest sector by creating an outlet for sawmill residual and low-grade timber.

If Ontario’s Ministry of Energy committed to convincing all the households using natural gas for heat to convert to wood pellets, that would be a total of nine million tonnes of pellets being used annually. The conversion, in turn, would generate $2.4 billion, and create 90,000 jobs.

More realistically in the short term are those homes using fuels that are more expensive than wood pellets – propane, oil and, in most provinces, electricity to heat. One study by the magazine Canadian Biomass estimated that if only five per cent of those households converted to wood pellet heating, 1,400 jobs would be created.

As the Forest Products Association of Canada’s (FPAC) vice-president of environmental leadership Mark Hubert noted in Canadian Biomass magazine, “From a social perspective, bioenergy also creates more permanent employment than other energy sources. Considering the same capital investment, bioenergy creates twice as many jobs as other types of renewable energy and three times as many jobs as fossil fuels.”

That’s keeping the home fires burning.

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