The Atlantic Region Energy Expo is usually the first of the trade show and convention-season for the fuel oil industry, so it tends to set the tone for the rest of the shows to follow. If that trend proves to be true this year, then expect to see and hear a lot more about biodiesel and Bioheat.
In fact, AREE added Bioheat to its name this year to officially reflect the show’s partnership with the National Biodiesel Board as well as to signal the changing attitudes of some of those in the oil heat industry regarding home and building comfort, efficiency and environmental responsibility.
The Atlantic Region Energy Expo and Bioheat took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 1-3 and brought a slightly lower number of attendees to the show than in years past, with approximately 3,500 people. The total amount of exhibits amounted to 250, plus 28 vehicles, with more than 40 new exhibitor companies.
Twenty-four business sessions were conducted, which included an educational track of five Bioheat sessions. These special classes were free of registration fee charges, due to funding support from the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
Staff from the Renewable Energy Group (REG), based in Ames, Iowa, gave an overview of the U.S. biodiesel industry in the session “Bio Industry-Perspective in the Mid-Atlantic Region.” REG corporate affairs manager Alicia Clancy and sales manager Paul Predaris both dispensed facts regarding how big the biodiesel market is now and how much it is expected to grow in regards to supply and demands as well as future feedstocks. Paul Nazzaro, president of Advanced Fuel Solutions, Inc., also contributed to the session, and all the panel members answered a variety of questions about Bioheat from the audience, including its quality and price.
“The fuel oil industry is a market in contraction,” Nazzaro said during the presentation. “We have a fuel that could take us to the next level.” He also said Bioheat is a way to give your customers a better gallon of fuel for the price.
In an AREE post-show press release, executive vice president of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, Eric DeGesero, said the show’s NBB partnership and new focus on Bioheat represents more than a name change.
“It’s a sign of changing times for oil heat dealers who recognize that Bioheat is their best option to adapt their businesses in the 21st center,” he said. “We’re proud that AREE was the first industry trade show and convention officially combining traditional fuels with the renewable biodiesel found in Bioheat.”
AREE wasn’t the only entity to change its name this year. The company formerly known as Info-Sys Solutions was at the show exhibiting as Abilis Energy. Vice president and general manager Chris Turcotte said the information management and solutions company decided to change its name this past February for a variety of reasons, including to avoid customers’ confusion caused by another company in a different industry with the same name.
“We wanted to disassociate with that company and associate ourselves more with our parent company,” which is also named Abilis, said Turcotte.
The name change also gives the Montreal, Quebec-based company a fresh platform to introduce new business services beyond back office products. To learn more, visit www.abilisenergy.com.
Despite the changes in focus and names, there seemed to be a smaller amount of new products being introduced at the show this year. However, Thermo Products showcased their 86 percent efficient newly revised oil mobile home furnace and their 95 percent high efficiency gas mobile home furnaces at AREE 2012. Mark Santangelo, Thermo Products director of sales and marketing, said, “Thermo Products is committed to being the premiere HVAC provider in the industry.” They also showcased their Spirit Furnace, a line of oil-fired warm air furnaces for wholesale distribution to the Northeast market.
Another new product introduced at the show was Blue Cow Software’s Ignite Mobile Service. The company says it is a wireless solution that empowers your service technicians and salesman by automating your service department with real time paperless communication. This allows technicians to invoice customers and salesmen to print or e-mail estimates and proposals before leaving the customer’s home.
The National Oilheat Research Alliance had its board meeting during the show. The organization went over its current state of affairs, which are much smaller in cope since NORA has not been funded by the federal government for two years. The program has continued to operate solely on state and private contributions and continues to keep their research and development projects active.
NORA president John Huber outlined some of the reasons why the lack of funding has gone on so long, which includes the fact that this current Congress has been very slow to pass anything. Huber also went over some of the coming opportunities to get the money reinstated, such as being included in a small business jobs bill, and some of the obstacles, such as this being a presidential election year.