The summit aims to bridge the gap between oil and renewables

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County is not only one of the nation’s oil producing counties, but we also produce more than 50 percent of the state’s renewable energy. That’s why energy professionals from the county and the state gathered on Tuesday at Kern County Community College Community Economic Mobility: A Focus on Energy and Climate Resiliency before the summit.

Many say Kern County has the best of both worlds. From solar energy to oil production to the largest wind farm in the country. Here’s what makes the county the energy capital of California and why energy leaders hope Kern County will be one of the starting points for moving energy forward.

California Office of Small Business Advocacy (CalOSBA) Director Tara Lynn Gray says people know Kern County for its oil, but they may not know about Kern’s renewable energy opportunities.

“What we really have in Kern County is the existence of both an old energy economy and a new energy economy,” she said. “Nearly 40 solar projects are planned in Kern County. There are already 150,000 acres dedicated to clean energy here.”

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Director Martin Koehler agrees and says the sentiment applies to the work Kern has to offer.

“I think this community is ready to take a parallel approach where we deploy some of that solar and wind energy on a larger scale using some of the electricity, maybe even moving to hydrogen down the road. Using the amazing workforce here in this energy transition to bring everyone into the clean energy revolution.”

Kern Community College Chancellor Sonya Christian sees the key to holding the summit in advance.

“The reality is that we have to look to the future, and the jobs of the future don’t exist right now. As such, KCCD is actively working with our research partners to identify what jobs of the future will make workforce development possible to grow our own talent here in Kern County.”

Gray says it’s not about polarizing one energy industry or another, but how we’re going to meet California’s climate goal.

“It’s a rapprochement. It’s a meeting in the middle and it’s about working out a solution. It is about cooperation. It is about creating economic mobility for the residents of these localities.”

The pre-summit continues Tuesday at the Bakersfield Marriot on Truxtun, followed by the California Economic Summit at the Mechanics Bank Convention Center on Thursday and Friday.



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