Harry “Dutch” Dresser, Ed.D.
Maine Energy Systems
Wednesday I attended a planning session for the Efficiency Maine Triennial Plan. It was well attended by people interested in the important role Efficiency Maine plays in encouraging energy efficiency among Maine home- and business owners and the related cost savings that efficiency represents.
During a break a woman was directed to Matt Bray and me. This retired woman is considering installing a wood pellet boiler in her energy efficient home and had sought a quotation from a contractor for that work. In telling her story this thoughtful woman raised concerns about the quality of bulk delivered pellets available to her in central Maine. Probing a bit, we learned that the contractor who had quoted a boiler installation for her had warned her that bulk delivered pellets in Maine weren’t suitable for small pellet boiler use because they contained fines (dust). Therefore, she was told, she should plan to load her boiler’s several ton storage unit with 40-pound bags.
If this information hadn’t been so discouraging, it would have been laughable. Imagine being told by an oil boiler technician installing a boiler in your home that bulk delivered oil wasn’t really suitable for general use, so you should plan to fill your 275 gallon oil tank with 5 gallon jerry cans of diesel acquired at the filling station.
Our company delivers thousands of tons of bulk pellets annually to happy customers who use a variety of different boiler brands and types. While this installer must be credited with trying hard to alert this woman that she would have problems with the boiler he was proposing to install, he must be faulted for not having the courage to say just that…this particular brand of boiler is highly sensitive to fuel quality, so it must be fed with dust-free pellets that are only available in bags. Instead of being forthright, the contractor impugned the Maine pellet manufacturing and distribution industries in general. Sadly, this contractor was simply following the lead set by the distributor from whom he buys boilers to install; the distributor has leveled the same blame when discussing failures of his boilers in a model neighborhood program in western Maine.
Having worked in the distribution industry, and cooperatively with the manufacturing industry, since we brought the first automatic residential pellet boilers into the US market eight years ago, I am both offended and annoyed by this small-minded tactic. The development of the pellet central heating industry is clearly dependent upon the distribution of premium quality fuel. No significant pellet central heating movement would occur if all pellet boilers required hand filling using 40-pound bags of fuel.
Maine’s mills have worked feverishly and tested regularly for years to ensure that they are producing pellets that meet published premium pellet standards. Maine Energy Systems has gone through several rounds of delivery truck development to ensure that those premium pellets are not degraded as they’re moved from the mill to the customers’ storage bins.
Businesses in Maine’s bulk pellet supply chain work continuously to deliver premium quality, locally manufactured fuel to the enlightened home- and business owners who are moving away from fossil fuels for economic and environmental reasons. These businesses should not be asked to accept the blame for the failures of central heating equipment that is too sensitive for the American marketplace.
Maine Energy Systems (MESys) fully-pneumatic bulk wood pellet delivery.