Turbines a windfall to Palouse businesses

ROSALIA, Wash. - As you drive down Highway 195 you may notice something sprouting from the golden wheat fields: A large wind farm is under construction just south of Rosalia.

The project began in April and when it's finished 58 wind turbines will bring renewable energy to about 30,000 residents.

In the near term though its brought something better: Money into the local economy.

"I think the majority of the people are really backing it, there are some that are against it, but it's just, it's taking place and it's going to be a good thing," Rosalia Mayor Jim Stenhouse said.

Palouse windfarm windfall

Rosalia is home to just shy of 600 people, so why not 300 more?

"We've had people staying here renting spaces in the RV parks, just a lot of the construction people coming into town. It's been a big boost for the economy," Stenhouse said.

The newest residents of Rosalia work at the windfarm down the road; work that creates an appetite for burgers and BLTs. Josh Bryan opened the Fairlane in January with a built-in customer base.

"A good percentage of guys that live in this general area that are now customers so I just feel fortunate be in the right place at the right time," Bryan said.

He estimates business is up 30 to 40 percent, and it's not just him. RV parks in Rosalia are booked, the hotel in Colfax is always booked, and nearby Oakesdale is also reaping the economic benefits all thanks to the wind farm.

"Really for small town America it's almost a blessing to have the opportunity to have hard working guys come in and spend their money, supporting your business," Bryan said.

Besides the business, anybody who's driven along the Palouse knows there's no shortage of wind so this is a perfect place for this project. Once it's complete in November it'll provide energy for about 30,000 residents.

A finished project also means saying goodbye to the new residents now calling the Palouse home.

Josh Bryan will miss the revenue but also his new regulars.

"Even if it ended tomorrow, above the economic impact the renewable energy, putting guys to work, even bigger than that it's just in relationships and the people you meet across the country," he said.