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TheStreet Open House

Green Energy CEO Q&A: Broadwind Energy

Stocks in this article: BWEN

In 2010, when the U.S. wind industry bottomed out, China finally surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest wind power market. If there's been a slight turnaround in the U.S., it's off the trough. Why should any investor believe the U.S. wind market will recover? Is China the only market where the use of wind energy is growing, and are you targeting that opportunity?

There is a place for wind power in the U.S., and most people agree, but we don't have the policies in place. We need energy policy in this country, and that's not just for wind. That's one role the government needs to play. Setting long-term energy policy is the number one challenge right now for the renewable space.

As far China, our focus right now is to diversify our customer base to the industrial sector, not outside of North America. We are growing our industrial base as mining companies and oil and gas companies are growing globally. As they grow internationally we are supplying them and growing right along with them.

For a company that was just a year ago a pure-play wind company focused on the green energy opportunity, won't it upset some "green" investors that you are banking our future on business from mining and oil and gas companies?

I think first and foremost we are an energy company. We do have some industrial customers and we are going to offer products and solutions to industries that demand products. Precision gearing is in demand in oil and gas and we will take advantage of that opportunity. I think investors would like to see more diversification in Broadwind. We can't be too reliant on government policy to drive the wind energy industry.

There's a lot of focus on offshore wind opportunity, even if the terrestrial wind market has slowed. Is this a major opportunity for the U.S. wind market to grow?

There's a lot of talk about offshore, but other than Cape Wind, I don't see lots of projects moving through the permitting process, and that could take a long time. Projects on shore remain fairly challenged by competition with fossil fuels and offshore wind could be two to three times the cost of terrestrial wind projects.

Is the low price of natural gas the biggest challenge wind energy faces?

That is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces. But look at the recent article in The New York Times over the weekend, questioning if people understand the cost of natural gas extraction, and how much gas is actually locked up in the shale play. That debate will continue, but fairly low natural gas prices will be challenging.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Eric Rosenbaum.

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