RHI Inquiry: Installer tells how his firm went from non-stop work to verge of collapse

RHI has ultimately been a disaster ' even for those once benefitting
RHI has ultimately been a disaster ' even for those once benefitting

Boiler installer Alan Hegan today told the RHI inquiry of the frenzied period where people were willing to pay over the odds to install a biomass boiler and he was working through the night – but now his business is on its knees.

Mr Hegan said that as the RHI scheme was running out of control and cost controls were being delayed he was receiving between 50 and 100 telephone calls a day, with his email inbox jammed and his phone unable to accept any more voicemail messages due to the level of demand for boilers to be installed before ‘cash for ash’ ended.

That situation, he said, became even worse in February 2016 when the capped scheme was being shut for good.

He said that his company and other boiler installers were putting up tradesmen from across the border in hotels, with electricians and plumbers working through the night in a bid to beat the deadline – and individuals were willing to pay those additional costs, such was the lucrative nature of the RHI payments.

But now he said that his business has “all but collapsed”. Although he did some work in England for a period and now works in Northern Ireland servicing existing boilers, he said that his company may have to close in the next nine months.

A similar company ceased trading last week, he said.

Mr Hegan said: “There’s not one biomass boiler that has been installed in Northern Ireland in the last two years.”

He said that Stormont’s decision to shatter what claimants viewed as a “cast iron guarantee” that their subsidies were guaranteed for 20 years mean that “confidence in the department is now shattered”.

He said that the industry will not recover and he did not know how lucrative Stormont would have to make a green energy scheme to persuade people to take a risk.