top of page
Olive Grove

Why Wood Heat Should be Incentivized

D. Biomass Heating Creates Jobs

Biomass heat provides great benefits to rural and forested economies across the country. The firewood industry employs tens of thousands of rural Americans. Although the jobs in the sector are not well studied or monitored, firewood harvesting is known to be an important primary and secondary source of income in most states. The firewood industry is a sustainable and local job field that is open to most rural Americans in wooded areas. The number of jobs available to blue-collar Americans in the biomass heat sector will only increase as this important energy source replaces fossil fuels. This trend has coincided with greater market penetration of highly efficient boilers and furnaces in many areas of Europe, such as Germany and Austria (see Chapter 5, Section D: European Programs). Today’s firewood, pellet and other residential biomass industries have great potential to expand in coming decades, providing much needed assistance to some of the most economically distressed areas of the country.

Case Study


"This report estimates that fuelwood consumed in Renfrew County in 1979 was 55,000 cords. The total value of this wood is in excess of 3 million dollars, but this wood replaces nearly 5 million dollars worth of fuel oil and electricity. This fuel replacement prevented a very substantial percentage of that 5 million dollars from leaving the county’s economy."1

-Renfrew County Energy Conservation Project

There are jobs in the harvesting and processing (i.e. pellet milling) of wood fuel and the manufacture of stoves and furnaces. Many jobs are also created in the transportation, administration and retail sector as well as in local communities benefitting from an ongoing increase of disposable income. A strong firewood and pellet industry can bring thousands of jobs to areas of the country that have been hit hardest by the collapse of small farms and the timber industry. Since many people in the region lack the ability to move, creating jobs in these areas that draw upon the skill sets already common in the population is smart policy. (For a complete discussion of wood heat jobs see Chapter 2, Section B: Jobs and the Wood Heat Industry).

1 Energy Pathways Policy Research Group. Renfrew County Energy Conservation Project. A Community Energy Study. Energy Mines and Resources Canada. March 1980

bottom of page