Thursday, July 27, 2006

Situation so far - Wait and See

The more I learn about Irelands wood pellet marketplace, the more unsure I become about investing in a home heating system based on such an ill-informed and unregulated situation.

I have spent over 4 month carefully investigating the following:

1. The types of heater available,
2. The prices, the "Special Irish Prices" or "Rip-Off Republic Specials", also know as "Post Grant Prices" which are between 33% and 100% higher than other EU countries.
3. The extraordinary cowboy and price gouger attitude of some SEI "Approved Installers"
4. The supply situation and prices of wood pellet fuel.
5. The storage and handling of wood pellets.
6. The reliability of wood pellet heating.

My Conclusions at this Time.

I have concluded so far that to invest at this time is not wise because:

1. There is no conclusive price information available for many manufacturers on their systems - some even prefer the gougers to set the price. However, the prices are starting to come down under the pressure of publicity.
2. The supply situation in Ireland for wood pellet fuel is anything but secure as yet.
3. Installation costs are still at the ridiculous stage. However, installers are multiplying and this will bring the installation price down in time.
4. The is no conclusive information on the long term reliability and value of the various heating systems.

I Will Wait and See

I will wait a bit longer and see some more before proceeding. I just cannot trust the Rip-Off Republic to do this good thing the right way. The Gombeen Men are thick on the ground taking advantage of every possible situation, not least the lack of clear information and unambiguous pricing.

What should happen?

SEI or another appointed agency should:

1. Demand that all manufacturers publish a recommended selling price. Also oversee spare-part availability and warranty arrangements.
2. SEI should publish it's own scale of recommended realistically based fees for installers. This to be done only after SEI consults some experts and gets it right. (Not like the sort of prices that SEI put out originally as being typical wood pellet heater prices of €7000 to €12000, whereas we all now know you can get a perfectly good system for under €5000)
3. SEI take on board a "price watch" and a "quality watch" and punish offenders by blacklisting.
4. SEI take on board a supply and price watch for wood pellets and inform the public on a weekly basis of the price and availability of the fuel.

Bottom Line?
Poor Information and No Regulation!

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