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Wind power has big year in Oklahoma, U.S.

A new market report issued by the federal Energy Department showed Oklahoma in sixth place nationally for wind power capacity. That has a Norman company, Bergey Windpower, bullish about the future. The United States also beat China last year in the amount of wind capacity installed.
by Paul Monies Modified: August 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm •  Published: August 7, 2013

The report said uncertainty over the credit last year and the administrative changes mean 2013 will be a slower year for new wind capacity. Industry and government estimates range from 2,800 to 5,000 megawatts in new wind capacity in 2013.

“As a result, while many projects will certainly aim to meet the ‘start construction' deadline by the end of the year, 2013 is expected to be a slow year for new capacity additions, lowering not only U.S. but global growth forecasts,” the report said.

Last year was a tough one for many small manufacturers of wind turbines, said Mike Bergey, president at Bergey Windpower. In areas outside of the windy, central United States, small wind turbines compete with solar panels for many consumers. Bergey said Chinese dumping of cheap solar panels on the U.S. market hurt small turbine manufacturers as consumers opted instead for solar.

The United States last year instituted tariffs against Chinese solar panels, which should help small wind turbine manufacturers, Bergey said. China has since retaliated with its own tariffs on the raw materials used for solar panels.

Despite the industry turmoil, Bergey Windpower continued to expand its Norman operations. The company added employees as it shut down a Chinese subsidiary and moved production back to the United States. It also bought a firm in Mississippi that makes power inverters and moved it to Norman. The company employs 35 people and sells most of its wares outside the state or around the world.

“We wouldn't trade our position with anyone,” said Bergey, who also is president of the Distributed Wind Energy Association. “We've got a good start on business this year and we're bullish about next year. The economy is recovering and people are starting to buy big-ticket items again.”

Bergey said the company's top model, a 10 kilowatt turbine with a 120-foot tower, typically costs about $60,000. With tax credits and depreciation, many businesses can see payback on the investment in six to eight years, he said.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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