Kern and Bakersfield win federal grants to support energy technology | News


A pair of federal grants announced Tuesday will provide technical know-how to help Kern County’s energy sector and other parts of the community face some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century while generating jobs. local.

Kern and Bakersfield were among 22 communities nationwide to receive pledges of technical assistance, known as Communities Local Energy Action Program grants, from the US Department of Energy.

The county’s work will focus on carbon capture and sequestration – an emerging technology designed to help fight climate change – while the city-led effort deals with the cost-effective use of energy and micro -networks that allow facilities to operate even when utility power must be turned off.

Both grants are expected to involve broad coalitions including government, nonprofits and the private sector, and as such were welcomed by leaders of various local organizations on Tuesday.

The announcements were seen as milestones for local workforce development as well as a victory for the county’s B3K Prosperity economic collaboration which worked to plan for new job creation as oil and gas agriculture are struggling against the changing times.

Chancellor Sonya Christian of the Kern Community College District, who will play a role in both grants, said local campuses will work with industry to deepen their energy programs while recruiting underrepresented workers.

She mentioned two specific proposals that could arise from the grants: one would capture and store carbon dioxide from a boiler; the other would build a microgrid to teach science and engineering students.

No money will be disbursed locally from either grant. Instead, federal agencies such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will lend their expertise in consultations with local parties.

One of the reasons for Kern’s success was the county’s continued reliance on conventional power for local jobs and tax revenue. Another factor, in the case of the Carbon Management Grant, is the local presence of depleted petroleum reservoirs identified as ideal for storing carbon dioxide and potentially useful in achieving California’s goal of carbon neutrality throughout the country. state by 2045.

County officials said the project would lead to the creation of an industrial park somewhere in West Kern, creating 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.

Lead planner Lorelei Oviatt said the coalition behind the effort will seek an owner willing to host the project, which she says will eventually attract up to $100 billion in investment.

The facility would receive carbon by pipeline or rail and, using energy from a proposed solar array measuring up to 30,000 acres, produce hydrogen energy and what is called green concrete. The carbon would also be injected deep underground to gradually rid the atmosphere of greenhouse gases.

“We will be the only place in California where we would do this kind of project,” Oviatt told reporters at a morning press conference.

Similar projects have been proposed locally by oil producers considered to have the technical expertise, infrastructure and investment capacity necessary for large-scale industrial work.

Money for the county-led project has not been identified, and those involved say it could come from a variety of sources, including government grants and private investment.

“This first step will provide the big picture we need to prepare for private sector investment in new and innovative carbon management technologies,” County Supervisory Board Chairman Zack Scrivner said during the meeting. conference.

The city-led grant aims to reduce costs for poor households as well as decarbonize local agriculture. Bakersfield officials will work with the Kern Clean Cities Coalition, a group that includes the Community Action Partnership of Kern, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the Kern County Farm Bureau, as well as labor unions, chambers of commerce and the towns of Arvin, Shafter and Wasco. .

In addition to work on microgrids, the grant is expected to reduce energy costs through increased use of zero-emissions transportation, low-cost battery energy storage, and community solar panels that power electric vehicles.

“The transition to an environmentally sustainable future is a necessity, but it must be done in a way that ensures low-income and rural residents are not negatively affected,” said Dolores Huerta Foundation Executive Director Camila Chavez in a statement. Press release. “This partnership, which brings together industry, government, education and residents, will ensure that the most disadvantaged members of the community have a voice in the future of our community.


Comments are closed.