The collapse of the U.S. market for power generation equipment sent a host of U.S. and multinational companies scurrying for greener sales pastures overseas several years ago.

At times, the ocean separating America from Europe seems to be getting wider, and the water seems to be getting colder.

Are better days on their way to the beleaguered power industry?

In the midst of an overbuilt power generation market that has seen wholesale power prices plummet, merchant power company valuations crater, and gas turbine manufacturer order volumes crumble, it might be difficult to spot a growing demand for baseload power.

As natural gas prices drift (and spike) higher, more and more attention is being given to LNG (liquefied natural gas) and the prospects for significant import growth to the U.S.

As I walked the aisles of POWER-GEN International in December in Las Vegas, I sensed a certain degree of optimism noticeably absent the past few years. Nothing like the euphoric feelings that pervaded the industry during the gas turbine boom, but a definite change in mood that seemed to say, "We've survived the assault and we're ready to exit the bomb shelter."