Shortage of wood pellets leave many without heat
Although wood pellet stoves promise high efficiency and cost savings, the popularity of the alternative method of home-heating has led to a shortage in the region of both stoves and the fuel needed to power them.
"We can't find any pellets for the pellet stove right now. We've called all kinds of stores. We've called all the Home Depots, all the Ronas, everywhere locally. We've gone all up the Ottawa Valley, all the way to Montreal and there's nothing. Nobody's carrying them and nobody can tell you when they're going to be getting any in," said Angela Dupont, who recently bought a wood pellet stove with her boyfriend.
Dupont's story is not unique, however. It's actually a familiar lament for homeowners across Ontario and Quebec.
The popularity of the stoves in both provinces, added to a shortage of stoves in the north eastern United States, is blamed by many as the source of the problem. Compounding the situation, a Quebec factory that makes the pellets has also burned down.
In order to meet the demand, those who sell the pellets say they're being forced to order them from as far away as British Columbia, which is driving up the costs.
"Now, you're looking at about a 34 per cent increase in cost, whereas the retail has gone up probably 15 per cent," said John St. Martin of the Home Hardware store in Casselman.
Still, he says a recent shipment of 3,300 bags of pellets flew of the shelves: "It was gone within two days - that weekend, that was it. And that's twice as many pellets as we've ever sold."
Meanwhile, Dupont says the $4,000 she spent to purchase a new wood pellet stove is about the same amount of money her and her boyfriend spent to heat their home with oil and electric baseboards last winter.
Now, as the cold weather starts to move in, Dupont says the scarcity of wood pellets has her wondering if she'll be forced to turn to space heaters for warmth this winter.
"We're comfortable now, everything is very comfortable now, but if it gets to minus 20 degrees and we don't have any pellets then, we probably won't be so comfortable. We'll be wearing flannel PJs and putting extra blankets on the mat."
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Carol Anne Meehan and Kate Eggins