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Wind industry executives pessimistic about growth this year

After record growth in U.S. wind power generation capacity in 2009, top industry executives at the American Wind Energy Association conference were pessimistic Tuesday about prospects for a strong repeat performance this year. But former President George W. Bush cheered up conference attendees with bullish comments on the future of renewable energy.

DALLAS -- After record growth in U.S. wind power generation capacity in 2009, top industry executives at the American Wind Energy Association conference were pessimistic Tuesday about prospects for a strong repeat performance this year. But former President George W. Bush cheered up conference attendees with bullish comments on the future of renewable energy.

The Texas wind industry also got some good news Tuesday, as Alstom, a French power generator, announced that it will open a 115,000-square-foot wind turbine facility in Amarillo. A major addition to an existing facility, it will bring 275 full-time engineering, production and technical-support jobs and is expected to be operational in 2011.

And one of China's largest wind turbine makers said Tuesday it has opened a Dallas office to serve customers in the Americas. Mingyang Wind Power Industry Group Co. Ltd. expects "to build and operate manufacturing centers in cities like Dallas," which it chose partly for its strategic location.

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues causing economic and environmental damage, Bush told the audience of 6,000 at the Dallas Convention Center that "it's in our economic... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

DALLAS -- After record growth in U.S. wind power generation capacity in 2009, top industry executives at the American Wind Energy Association conference were pessimistic Tuesday about prospects for a strong repeat performance this year. But former President George W. Bush cheered up conference attendees with bullish comments on the future of renewable energy.

The Texas wind industry also got some good news Tuesday, as Alstom, a French power generator, announced that it will open a 115,000-square-foot wind turbine facility in Amarillo. A major addition to an existing facility, it will bring 275 full-time engineering, production and technical-support jobs and is expected to be operational in 2011.

And one of China's largest wind turbine makers said Tuesday it has opened a Dallas office to serve customers in the Americas. Mingyang Wind Power Industry Group Co. Ltd. expects "to build and operate manufacturing centers in cities like Dallas," which it chose partly for its strategic location.

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues causing economic and environmental damage, Bush told the audience of 6,000 at the Dallas Convention Center that "it's in our economic interests that we diversify away from oil."

"It's in our environmental interest," the onetime Midland oilman added. "And, finally, it's in our national security interest."

Bush spoke after a panel of wind industry executives urged adoption of a national renewable-electricity standard that would encourage long-term investment in wind power. The wind association favors a "25 x '25" proposal calling for 25 percent of the nation's electricity to be produced from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2025.

The U.S. installed more than 10,000 megawatts of new wind generation capacity in 2009, its largest total ever. That represented 39 percent of all electric generation capacity additions during the year and was fueled in part by federal stimulus incentives. But only about 500 megawatts of new wind generation were added in the first three months of this year, making it "the slowest first quarter of wind installations since 2007," said Steve Bolze, a senior vice president with GE Energy.

"Right now, wind energy needs to get more cost-competitive," said Michael O'Sullivan, a senior vice president for NextEra Energy Resources, a major wind generator in Texas.

It was much easier for wind generation to compete against natural gas when gas cost $8 per 1,000 cubic feet, O'Sullivan said. But with it now only slightly above $4, renewable power "has gotten expensive" by comparison, he said.

Bush said he believes that his grandchildren will be driving electric cars, powered primarily by renewable sources of energy.

"I fully believe plug-in hybrids will be a transition to electric cars," he said. Hybrids are combination gasoline-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids can be recharged using standard electric outlets.

Oil and natural gas will remain vital sources of energy as the nation transitions to a new energy era, Bush said.

Denise Bode, the group's executive director, introduced Bush as "a wonderful, wonderful supporter of wind," who as Texas' governor backed a 1999 state law that helped establish new wind generation. Bush said the goal was to reach 2,000 megawatts in wind generation capacity within a decade.

Instead, Texas now has nearly five times that goal, with 9,506 megawatts of capacity. That's more than double any other state. If Texas were a nation, it would rank sixth in the world, Bush noted.

Paul Sadler, executive director of the Wind Coalition, a multi-state group that includes leading players in the Texas wind industry, praised Bush's comments.

"I think the former president is correct," said Sadler, a former Democratic state representative from East Texas. "It's important that we diversify our energy resources. It's critical for homeland security that we minimize our dependence on foreign oil and gas. It's critical that we continue in the direction we have been going on renewable energy."


Source: http://www.star-telegram.co...

MAY 25 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/26470-wind-industry-executives-pessimistic-about-growth-this-year
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