Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

After 30 Years, Norman-Based Bergey Windpower Takes Off

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

After 30 Years, Norman-Based Bergey Windpower Takes Off

Article excerpt

Mike Bergey finally has the wind to his back.

As proof, the owner of Bergey Windpower of Norman said last week his company is experiencing its best business environment ever.

"I thought this day would come," he said. "I just thought it would come a heck of a lot quicker than it turned out to be. I guess we are kind of a 30-year-old overnight success."

While he acknowledges the company had to be "tornado tough" to simply survive this long, Bergey attributes the recent surge in business to a $30,000 federal tax credit that goes to purchasers of small wind systems.

In recent years, there have been subsidies for large wind power efforts, which has helped create a $12 billion industry, but small wind systems have been kept in low gear by a lack of federal support.

"Now we have a tax credit for the next six years, and we think that will allow us to finally get up to mass production and start lowering the prices," Bergey said.

If the weather starts straightening out around the country, Bergey forecasts that the company could install almost 1,000 turbines this year.

Although there's no better place to erect a wind turbine, very few of those sales will be in Oklahoma.

Bergey Windpower exports its products to 100 countries, but most of his customers are on the East and West coasts, where electricity rates are higher and states offer additional subsidies to purchasers.

"The numbers don't favor small wind in Oklahoma," Bergey said. "We are happy to take all the orders we can get, but we don't push it very strongly."

In Southern California, residential users pay up to 40 cents a kilowatt-hour, four times what most Oklahomans pay, and the state provides $20,000 cash rebates for the purchase of one of Bergey's home-sized units.

"The payback period can be three or four years, compared to 12 to 15 years in Oklahoma," Bergey said.

Nationally, wind power is making headway against conventional energy sources such as coal and oil.

"The cost of conventional energy has increased and the cost of renewable energy has come down, so there's not the big gulf that changes the competitiveness if the Saudis open the spickets," Bergey said. …

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