Dick Kryder adjusted his straw hat as he stood in his booth at the First Annual National Energy Expo yesterday and pointed at a windmill sticking up from the end of an ordinary camping trailer. The windmill was hooked to a generator and storage batteries.
"It stores energy for three people for 12 hours," he said in his folksy twang. "It runs a refrigerator, electric range, TV set, electric toilet and also the lighting in the trailer. And the thing is bullet-proof, that's an important thing."
It's important said Kryder, because when you put your windmill up in the wilderness a hunter is likely to take a shot at the generator attached to it, which would put you out of business.
Kryder, who is with Unicorn Enterprises in Buffalo was one of more than 100 enterpreneurs, inventors, consultants and big business firms from all over the country to open energy expo exhibits at the D.C. Armory yesterday.
While the first-day crowd was light during working hours the exposition will run through the weekend. Exhibitors and spectators yesterday were filled with the special exuberance that the new American energy gold-rush seems to have generated.
There were big wood-splitting machines, cars that run on alcohol and the suns' rays, a dozen different kinds of insulation ("win a free storm door!") and wood stoves, something called a deaerator that takes gases out of water, a completely energy-efficient house a game called Energy Quest ("Return to Research Center," said one of the cards), and more ways to harness Old Sol than you can shake a Mist-Mizer at.
Yesterday's first-day crowd included a Panamanian businessman interested in exporting new windmill technology to South America, a Small Business Administration executive setting up a new energy loan program and a man from George Washington University interested in water-saving shower heads.
For every exhibitor we have here we probably talked to 10 or 15," said Don Glassie, who organized the expo through an organization called the National Society for Energy Awareness. Glassie said the energy business is booming, and he hopes his exposition will boom in future years, too.
If the exposition is a vision of the future, it is also a strong reminder of the past. There were probably a dozen wood stove manufacturers represented.
"I sold 28,000 of these stoves last year," said Eva B. Horton, who imports Jotul wood stoves from the Norway. I'm the only one who has a decent warranty . . . I have 600 stores selling my stove. I had 7,000 applications (from stores). I'm like a college admissions board.
"I'm 45 years old, divorced and have three children and I'm free . . . I'm the exclusive distributor in the U.S. Madame president! The stove queen."
Herbert Fischer, who had a booth near the stove queen, said he has an energy consulting business, which, among other things, checks people's utility bills for errors. He said he has found 30 percent of them in error, and takes a 50 percent fee when he recovers the difference from the companies. He said his biggest recovery was $1 million for a department store.
Michael Wales was selling Love shower heads that he said would knock $120 a year off the average family's water bill.
"I'll give you a back off. They retail for $10. You can't beat it," he said to Barbara Klein, a consultant, who among other things, set up conferences and was attending yesterday to get ideas for an impending U.S. Department of Energy conference.
Wales, who had a little spraying shower at his booth, also said yesterday's sparse working-hours crowd was a disappointment "Up in Vermont people go wild (over energy-saving devices). But in an area like this people are too sophisticated to mess with this kind of stuff. They'll pay someone to do it for them."
Dick Merritt, a lobbyist for the state of Nebraska, leaned against a brown Mazda and said, "This car's running on vodka, you know, 15 percent vodka."
Gasahol - as the gasoline and alcohol fuel that Merritt is promoting is called - is sold in 65 gas stations in the Midwest and is now available at a gas station in Alexandria at 72.9 cents a gallon, according to a publicity agent for the exposition.
The idea of gasahol is to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to sell more corn and wheat, from which the alcohol is made. "We're also pushing garbage, timber, sugar beets and sugar cane (to make alcohol with), anything that's American and is available," said Merritt.
Volkswagen has one of its Rabbit diesels on display. You push a button on the mockup of a diesel gas pump nearby and a voice from the pump says that the car gets 50 miles to the gallon at 55.9 cents a gallon.