Wind Farm Wind Fall

The Trinity Hills Wind Farm near Olney came online in March.

During construction, hundreds of jobs were created which pumped thousands of dollars into the local economy.

Now, many of those workers are gone, working on other wind farms around the country.

That doesn't mean the Trinity Hills Wind Farm won't have an impact in Olney for years to come.

For the last two months, the 90 turbines which make up the Trinity Hills Wind Farm have been generating around 225 mega-watts of clean energy. That's enough to power around 100,000 homes.

Scott Willis is the facility manager. Chris Pilarczyk is his second in command.

They said they're excited about bringing the energy of the future to Texoma, but their work with the wind farm is about more than just a good job with great views.

"My wife and I, no matter what we are or what we're doing, we're going to try to get involved in the community as much as possible," explained Willis.

Many of the 20 plus workers BP employs at the site also have family in the area.

"My wife's family has lived here for over 65 years," said Pilarczyk, "her grandparents are still alive at 93-years-old."

Because of those family ties, both Willis and Pilarczyk said they have a vested interest beyond a paycheck.

"You always want to see the project succeed," said Pilarczyk, "and you want to be a big part of that. That's what we look for here in Olney. They've got a good environment, a good core group of people that live here and you want to see the town succeed and the environment and economy stay strong in this area."

Part of helping the economy stay strong is educating future generations.

In return for a 10 year tax abatement agreement, BP will give around $70,000-$75,000 a year to the Olney ISD starting in 2013.

"Any stream of revenue we can get these days with tightening budgets from Austin, we're glad to get," said Tom Bailey, the Superintendent of Olney ISD.

And because the money isn't ear-marked for any specific project, Olney ISD can use the cash to help pay off bonds and get out of debt.

"we'll just have to stop and look at that and see whether it will be wise to pay off bonds sooner, or alter the tax rate," said Bailey, "We'll just try to be wise stewards of those funds."

Kyle Lewis owns some of the land where the turbines stand, and BP reimburses him for it.

He said just like the other land owners, he was excited about adding another revenue stream.

"I'm excited about everything that's happened here in the last year, building [the wind farm] and the future of it," said Lewis, "Hopefully [it pays] for my son's college. My brother has three kids and it will help pay for [their] college too."

Helping to create college funds for students still in grade school. Proof the impact of the Trinity Hills Wind Farm will be felt for years to come.

Reporter's notes by Ryan Robertson:

Another added benefit of the wind farm on future generations, students from all over Texoma can go to the facility for field trips, and learn about what it takes to keep the turbines spinning and get them thinking now about ways to harness new energies later in life.

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