Harry “Dutch” Dresser, Ed.D.
Maine Energy Systems
Bethel, Maine 04217

I’ve recently enjoyed a trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I was invited to talk about the process of starting a wood pellet boiler and furnace heating community.  I hope my hosts learned as much as I did on my first visit to the great prairie.  Manitoba Hydroelectric Company was a particularly insightful host in a beautiful building in a city at the junction of the Red River and the Assiniboine River.  At that junction a remarkable national museum to human rights stands on a site that has been a gathering place for many centuries.

I use a Mindnode map to depict the many dendrites of activity associated with the opportunities, requirements, and challenges of introducing wood pellet heating to a region.  One of those dendrites, “consumer awareness,” becomes particularly important after the hard work of establishing the necessary technical, regulatory, and delivery infrastructure has been completed.  Once home and business owners have gained general familiarity with wood pellet central heating and discovered its personal, regional, and global benefits, they become potential customers for all vendors of wood pellet heating products available in their marketplace, and even beyond.

As formerly unfamiliar heating products have materialized in short order in the Northeastern US marketplace, a funny practice has become increasingly popular. In my earliest professional life, I was a teacher of biology. Like every other high school biology teacher at the time, my classes devoted some time to understanding the value of mimicry to plants and animals.  Wikipedia describes mimicry like this. “Mimicry occurs when a group of organisms, the mimics, evolves to share perceived characteristics of another group, the models.”

The common high school example at the time included the monarch butterfly and the viceroy, a small orange butterfly sharing coloration patterns with its larger peer. The idea at the time was that the viceroy enjoyed some freedom from predation because it looked like the bad tasting monarch.

Zoologist Wolfgang Wickler describes the benefits of mimicry thusly. “The evolution is driven by the selective action of a signal-receiver or dupe.”

Yesterday we became aware of a “new” line of pellet boilers produced in Eastern Europe that some in our region were starting to promote.  This boiler, like two others already on the market here, uses mimicry to try to make dupes of potential buyers.  It is finished in gray and green colors that mimic those of MESys/Ökofen boilers, the most highly regarded boilers in the market.

One wouldn’t assume he was getting the attributes of a Ferrari in a Ford Focus simply because it was painted the same brilliant red color, but pellet boiler and furnace customers have much less experience with boilers than with automobiles, so they would be well advised to become fully informed about boiler attributes and quality before choosing a boiler color.