Premium in pellets

Kelli K. Curran, sales and marketing manager for Curran Renewable Energy, stands in front of a silo that stores wood pellets at the Massena plant, which has become certified by the Pellet Fuels Institute for premium-grade wood pellets. Below her are stacks of wood pellets ready for distribution. Jason Hunter/ NNY Business

Massena-based Curran Renewable earns Pellet Fuels Institute certification

After producing wood fuel pellets for five years, Curran Renewable Energy, 20 Commerce Drive, Massena, has become one of only two such mills in the country to be certified by the Pellet Fuels Institute for premium-grade wood pellets.

The institute uses a standard that the company follows in such areas as bulk density, diameter, durability, ash content, moisture and chlorides.

“We believe with the PFI certification and a standard that we know we can meet, our quality level will be exceptional and will help us grow to the capacity that we’re looking to be at,” said Patrick J. Curran, president and CEO of Curran Renewable Energy.

The plant is running at 70 percent of its full capacity, which Mr. Curran said is 100,000 tons of pellets annually.

“If you were to break that down to 4 tons per home, this plant at full capacity could heat 25,000 homes,” he said. “And it’s all energy that’s coming from the forest right in everybody’s backyard. It’s not imported.”

Mr. Curran’s daughter, Kelli K. Curran, is the marketing and sales manager for the company. She said their sister company, Seaway Timber Harvesting Inc., 15121 Route 37, provides Curran Renewable with the wood chips that get turned into pellets.

“Seaway Timber Harvesting brings all the feedstock here, so we’re not using any recycled wood materials,” she said.

Mr. Curran said the PFI can send in an auditor at any given time to sample several bags of inventory, testing the products to ensure the company is keeping up with the certification’s guidelines.

“We realize that it’s going to add more work and more cost to doing what we’re doing, but we’re going to feel confident that every ton or 40-pound bag that we sell to the public will meet the desired specs of the PFI,” Mr. Curran said. The company received the certification late last month.

The five types of pellets produced at the plant are pure hardwood, pure softwood, a blend of 70 percent hardwood and 30 percent softwood, pure pine and pure hickory.

Mr. Curran said 50 percent of his product is sold through Lowe’s, Home Depot and Tractor Supply Co., and the other 50 percent goes to stove shops. “All aspects are important to the company,” he said.

Mr. Curran said he has sold pellets as far east as Maine and as far west as Michigan.

New England Wood Pellet, Jaffrey, N.H., also was awarded the PFI’s certification.

Mr. Curran said that although not every company is certified, all are able to compete and sell their products. However, he said that as time goes on, the public will become more aware of the institute’s designation and will look for the standard on the bags they purchase.

“When a person is paying for his heat, he really wants to make sure that he’s getting what he’s paying for,” he said. “If we want this industry to grow, we have to provide the best product we possibly can, or this industry is just going to stop in its tracks.”

Katie Anderson is a Johnsons Newspapers staff writer. Contact her at or 661-2518.