Celebrating 100 years of propane use with the slogan “A Century of Solutions,” the recent Northeast Propane Show (NPS) offered a look at the history of the fuel while also providing a springboard to the future by showcasing a growing variety of uses for it.
The event, presented by the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE), featured a trade show, educational seminars and networking opportunities at the Holiday Inn in Boxborough, Mass., on Aug. 8 and 9. The first night of the show concluded with a dinner meeting in the hotel’s courtyard. There were 129 exhibitors at the show, including more than a dozen beneath a large outdoor tent displaying trucks and other heavy equipment.
Nearly 1,100 people attended the show, according to Joe Rose, president of PGANE, and most of the seminars were filled to capacity.
The courtyard also contained the Propane Centennial Museum of History and Artifacts, which showcased materials dating back to the early days of propane, including equipment used by Walter Snelling to secure the first patents for the fuel and its combustion. The museum also tracked the continually growing list of applications for the fuel through the decades and documented the importance of training and safety for retailers.
Exhibitors at the trade show offered attendees a first-hand look at some of the technologies integrating the fuel, such as vehicles run by propane autogas, and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) conducted a seminar on how retailers can increase their summer load by educating lawn care companies on the benefits of propane using propane in their mowers.
Clark Peters, vice president of manufacturer’s representative E.W. Leonard, led a seminar on propane-fired absorption chillers and chiller-heaters from Robur that offer both heating and cooling. He highlighted several advantages of the equipment, such as its high efficiency and standard components that are easily recognizable and repairable.
According to Peters, the units can boast efficiencies to 140 percent, utilizing 100 percent from the propane, 50 percent from natural sources such as the ground, water or air, and accounting for 10 percent flue loss.
“When we’re making heat, we can take that extra heat produced and use it,” he said.
Another advantage to the systems is their flexibility and modularity, allowing them to be integrated with existing boilers or solar systems in order to maximize their seasonal performance or expand total heating capacity.
“The chillers have a 25- to 30-year lifecycle with just minor repairs,” Peters said. “And the inside contains familiar components like a gas burner and Honeywell gas valve.”
Among the many exhibitors introducing or demonstrating new equipment was Bergquist, which recently announced they will be distributing propane equipment from the Cavagna Group, including the line of Kosan+ residential regulators and internal valves for bulk storage.
With the newly developed Kosan+ line, Bergquist and Cavagna, an Italian company with more than 40 years of experience, have worked together to design a regulator specifically to meet the needs of the U.S. propane market.
Bergquist also featured newly developed internal valves, relief valves and commercial/industrial regulators from Marshall Excelsior Company (MEC).
“MEC continues to design products with features that make them easy to install, easy to use and more service friendly,” said Bergquist President Bob Barry. “These products will save propane marketers both time and money."
One of the more unique seminars presented at the conference was a mock technician deposition from members of the Propane Gas Defense Association (PGDA). Attorneys Frank W. Beckstein, John V. McCoy and Bob Smith portrayed the technician, plaintiff’s lawyer and defense lawyer, respectively.
Despite focusing specifically on a case involving a malfunctioning propane furnace that resulted in a family dying from carbon monoxide poisoning, the mock deposition provided valuable information for any service-related company facing legislation.
“Depositions are the primary source for plaintiffs to establish liability for the trial and the record of it can be used,” said Beckstein, stressing the importance of being properly prepared.
With the mock lawsuit, based on an amalgamation of real-life cases, being brought against both the technician and the propane company he worked for, establishing liability was a focus of the deposition. While the technician’s recordkeeping for work orders, leak tests and other safety inspections was either spotty or non-existent, the company also had responsibility for inadequately training and supervising their technician.
With company personnel files open to lawyers, Beckstein stressed that having the proper written record can help establish that proper protocol was followed and that customers were notified of either the changes made or risk involved of tampering with equipment.
Beckstein also said that the PGDA, which includes about 200 members across the country, helps connect retailers facing legislation with attorneys specifically versed in the equipment, codes and business practices of the propane industry.