The future of Kern County: The first Energy Technology Transfer and Workforce Development webinar

Sydney McClanahan, Reporter

The first Energy Technology Transfer and Workforce Development webinar was held last Thursday by Kern Community College District (KCCD), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Kern County Planning, and Natural Resources department, and Bakersfield College to discuss energy opportunities in Kern County.
Liz Rozell, director of Energy TT&WD, was joined by Dr. Sonya Christian, president of Bakersfield College, Tom Burke, chancellor at Kern Community College District, Leticia Perez, chair of The Kern County Board of Supervisors, David Mooney, director of Institutional Planning, Integration and Development at The NREL, Cathy Reheis-Boyd, president of Western States Petroleum Association, Sarah Kurtz, professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Merced and Richard Chapman, CEO of Kern Economic Development Corporation.
Since Kern County is the hot spot for energy resources throughout the nation, Bakersfield College, Kern Community College District, and the NREL are collaborating to ensure a stable energy future for Kern County.
This would also include research and job training.
“We need to meet the challenge by leveraging our oil and gas resources to help us fully develop a clean energy resource, commercial-scale solar and wind, biomass, geothermal, and energy stored solutions,” Burke said.
The KCCD is taking the reins on building this large collaboration, but each has a certain role in order to ensure success.
“NREL’s research and policies expertise could drive and align their work in commercial scale, renewable and clean energy options to meet state and national energy means to fuel our future to 2045 and beyond,” Burke said.
Kern County and The Kern Economic Development Corporation will help expand Kern’s energy experience while KCCD will provide the training needed to prepare new and current workforces.
“I see Kern being a leader in the energy sector in California,” Burke said.
Though NREL is one of the smallest labs, they have more partnerships than other laboratories.
These partnerships connect them with the industry to ensure that the research that is being done is relevant to the challenges of getting new technology into the market.
“Also, a part of that partnership portfolio is our relationship with Universities and colleges and in the last three years, we’ve made a very concerted and strategic effort to increase and enhance those relationships across the country,” Mooney said.
Mooney also mentioned their relationship has yet to expand to community colleges until now.
“Community Colleges are such a great connection to the community and to workforce development. We are so proud and excited to launch this University of relationship portfolio with Bakersfield College. I know we’re going to do a lot of great things together,” Mooney said.
The challenges that came with 2020 have taken a hard hit on the economy as well as energy within California causing a shortage.
“More than ever we are seeing the importance of a diverse energy mix and supporting our state. The oil and gas industry that I represent is certainly committed to providing energy that we produce here in Kern County and throughout the state, but we are also investing in an innovative tour that sends renewable, alternative, and clean energy resources throughout the state,” Reheis-Boyd said.
This partnership, according to Reheis-Boyd, is an essential step in working towards a sustainable energy future that serves all of California.