Developers of a planned Osage County wind-energy facility donated two new school buses last week to the Shidler School District.
TradeWind Energy delivered the buses last Thursday after company officials learned that the rural school district was experiencing transportation troubles, said Laurie Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Kansas-based enterprise.
"I guess Santa’s sleigh is big and yellow in Osage County this year," Shidler School Superintendent John Herzig said.
The idea for the school bus project started when TradeWind official Aaron Weigel attended a recent Shidler school board meeting to share details about the Mustang Run wind project, according to Roberts. In the course of the meeting, Weigel listened intently as board members and district patrons discussed Shidler’s aging bus fleet and the difficulties of maintaining it during these times of ever-tightening school budgets.
Following the meeting, Weigel set a course to see if he could solve the district’s most immediate needs by arranging for the lease of two brand new buses, the TradeWind Energy official said.
"We strive to be active participants in the communities in which we develop, and we simply couldn’t look the other way," said Weigel. "I attended a school that reminds me very much of this one, so I know what it’s like when a bus breaks down on a dirt road in February, 45 minutes into your hour-long ride.
"To be able to provide the district with some relief, while playing a role in transporting this precious cargo—we couldn’t think of a better Christmas gift," Weigel added.
TradeWind has committed to paying all costs associated with the lease of two buses to the Shidler district for three full years, which includes maintenance and tires for the duration of the lease period.
"It will take about three years for our school district to begin receiving tax dollars from the operations at Mustang Run," said Herzig. "TradeWind’s gift of these school buses helps us bridge the gap and take care of our critical transportation needs until we can count on the increased tax revenue in future years.
The TradeWind company is in the process of developing the 136-megawatt Mustang Run project in central Osage County, near Burbank. When it becomes operational, the first-year energy production at Mustang Run is expected to produce a tax benefit of approximately $1 million for the nearby Shidler School District.
TradeWind Energy already has a couple of Oklahoma wind operations: Chisholm View Wind Project in Garfield and Grant counties, and Rocky Ridge in Washita and Kiowa counties. The Lenexa, Kan., firm is also negotiating purchase of another proposed Osage County project — the 150-megawatt Osage Wind Project near Grainola.
"We’re proud to be a member of this community and want to give back to Oklahoma for the gracious and enthusiastic ways it has supported wind energy," said TradeWind Chief Executive Officer Rob Freeman regarding the Shidler school buses. "We are honored and privileged to help remove an obstacle for the school district, recognizing its financial resources are already stretched thin."
Founded in 2003, TradeWind Energy, Inc. is one of the largest independent wind and solar project development companies in the United States. The company has received the Kansas Governor’s Energy Achievement Award and also was bestowed the national Outstanding Commercial Achievement Award by the American Wind Energy Association.
TradeWind officials said the company takes great pride in its demonstrated ability to deliver low-cost wind and solar energy to diverse markets while maintaining an uncompromising commitment to long-term project quality.
To date, TradeWind has completed one gigawatt of installed wind capacity, representing $1.7 billion of capital invested, said the officials. It is rapidly expanding its solar development portfolio, they added. More information is available at the company website: www.tradewindenergy.com.