Despite a 2010 slowdown the wind industry is not dying -it’s growing through a fitful adolescence. U.S. natural gas prices have dropped below $4 per thousand cubic feet at the wellhead compared with more than $11 in 2008. But Minnesota-based utilities such as Xcel Energy and Great River Energy are counting on the wind industry, conservation and other alternative sources to help them meet state mandates in the Midwest to generate up to 25 percent of their energy from renewables. Frank Praeger, Xcel’s vice president of environmental affairs, said lower natural gas prices can be a positive for wind generation. That’s because natural gas-fired plants are the most flexible to operate. That can help balance generating capacity with the intermittent nature of wind. Read more about low gas prices and the wind industry.