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Posted: July 16, 2022

Wood pellets for electricity – what’s the issue?

Letter to the Editor

B.C. wood pellets are shipped overseas to be burned for electricity generation. Most of us assume that these wood pellets come from waste wood. But this is not necessarily the case in B.C.’s pellet industry. Everything from waste wood to sawlogs can be turned into pellets. Provincial regulation has left it completely up to market prices.

When overseas subsidies make pellets more profitable than construction lumber, sawlogs can be used to make pellets. B.C. could soon be harvesting our forests for international energy markets.

If those wood pellets replace fossil fuels, it sounds good, but replacing fossil fuels with wood pellets will actually release more carbon dioxide in the short term, which is disastrous from a climate change perspective. And it is an inappropriate use of our forests that we rely on to support life as they provide our clean water and air.

How did this happen (that forests could be turned into pellets for overseas electricity)?  Could it have anything to do with B.C.’s chief forester, who recently left her position to become Drax’s Vice-president of Sustainability for North America?

Drax is a UK-based energy company that is buying its way into owning B.C.’s pellet industry by recent purchases of nearly half of the pellet mills in the province. This is an example of regulatory capture, where the pellet industry hired the chief forester to profit from the industry she was in charge of regulating.

There is hope however – B.C.’s forests are critical in ensuring our key life supports and in carbon capture while standing.  Courage is necessary for the province to enact the necessary changes to prevent further instances of top public servants from taking their insider knowledge to industry, and to quickly sever the loophole that could see our primary forests burned as pellets.

Sharon Cross,


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