Following my experience with the poor quality pellets I got from Athens, I wrote last week to the Maine Wood-to-Energy task force. In part I wrote that "I heat with pellets and I am a wholehearted supporter of the State's wood-to-energy efforts. The shift to burning pellet fuel, however, is going to be hampered by the poor quality pellets that are coming from one of the state's producers." (I didn't call them out by name. I assumed that the volume of consumer complaints had already grown to the point where it would be obvious.) Aside from voicing my frustration, I'm not entirely certain what it was that I hoped to achieve by writing other than to alert the group to a producer that was harming the reputation of the industry. I received an immediate response from the executive director of the Maine Pellet Fuels Association, a group made up of all of the area pellet producers. He asked me to hang tight since they had a meeting coming up this week. Last night I received a message from him: "Following up -- the firms manufacturing wood pellets in Maine met yesterday to discuss complaints such as you voiced. Attached is a formal statement which we hope you will find useful, and which you may want to discuss with the retailer from whom you purchased pellets. The manufacturers all agreed to produce and label product according to the standards recently set forth by the Pellet Fuel Institute, and to test accordingly. One firm, perhaps the one to whom you refer, had been manufacturing pellets using "waste wood" -- branches, bark, etc. While this is an optimum utilization of Maine's forest resources, it turns out to not produce the required product, and the firm has ceased use of such wood. We're learning as we go, and all firms have agreed to take back and exchange pellets which a consumer finds unsatisfactory. Thanks for your patience and support." The statement that was attached is as follows: "Maine’s pellet fuel manufacturers regret any customer dissatisfaction with purchased pellets, and thank customers for their support and patience while quality issues are resolved in our new and growing Maine woods fuel industry. Quality variations can arise due to procurement of wood supplies from different locations and forest components, such as species of trees. These variations are rapidly diminishing as wood procurement practices become more uniform and also as firms become more familiar with different pellet manufacturing equipment and processes. As manufacturers, we will readily exchange, with concurrence of the original retailer, any pellets which have resulted in any customer’s dissatisfaction and which the customer wishes to return." I see this as a very positive step in the right direction. It shows that the producers are self-policing and committed to improving the quality of the product. If one producer harms the reputation of the product, it hurts all of them, not to mention the harm to the consumer. This may be of little consolation to anyone that is stuck with lousy pellets and unable to find a replacement supply, but at least if the producers get their act together this will happen less in the future.