Wind Power Industry Expands, Despite Short-Term Challenges


Electricity demand is down.

Natural gas is cheap and plentiful.

A tax credit that makes wind energy competitive is set to expire next year.

These are the headwinds being talked about at the nation's largest wind energy event, the 2011 Wind Power Convention.

It's being held in Anaheim, and the last time wind executives gathered like this in energy-hungry California, there were 5,200 exhibitors. This time there are more than 20,000.

They meet as Google invests in the industry, and as Siemens announces plans to build its largest wind services center in the U.S. in Oklahoma.

At the same time, Gamesa, a major player, expects flat demand in the U.S. this year.

Here are the thoughts of two CEOs.

Pete Duprey is CEO of Broadwind, which has seen its stock price fall over 20 percent so far this year. Duprey talks about the challenges ahead.

Broadwind has started to sell some of the gear it builds for the wind market to other types of businesses, and it, like everyone here, is expanding into servicing existing turbines. When you can't sell many new cars, you make money servicing existing ones. It's the same with wind.

Steve Dayney is CEO of German-based REPower's U.S. operation. He is betting wind can survive with or without federal help, but he says America's method of establishing energy policy isn't helping.

He's also not surprised wind isn't doing better in the face of $100 oil.