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Governor Newson’s planned energy center provides new opportunities for Kern County

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Posted at 10:52 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-22 02:13:23-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to Kern Economic Development Corporation, Kern County is a hub of energy. The seventh largest oil-producing county in the country, home to the nation’s second-largest solar plant, and the largest geothermal energy in the United States.

CSUB’s proposed Energy Innovation Center aims to see where the future of energy is going and what jobs could accompany it for the Kern County community.

Governor Newsom is proposing to allocate $83 million of the 2022-2023 California budget to CSU Bakersfield’s Energy Innovation Center.

The proposed 74,000 square foot building would house 17 lab spaces and 30-degree programs under the stem umbrella, including the future of energy and the jobs that would come with it.

If state legislature approves the allocation, it will also be the center for faculty, students, and CSUB’s partners like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to collaborate on research for where the future of energy is headed.

“Kern County is at the epicenter of what the future of energy is going to look like. I’m very, very excited that the governor has recognized the important sense of place and that Kern County has an important role to play,” said Dr. Lynette Zelezny, President of CSU Bakersfield.

That role, as far as Dr. Zelezny is concerned, begins with their students. CSUB officials confirming two thirds of CSUB students work locally following graduation.

“Most of our students stay and work in Kern County and serve in our community.”

The Brooks Institution ranks the region as fourth in the nation for stem jobs, according to the Kern Economic Development Foundation. But ten percent of the higher-paying jobs that require a four-year degree remain vacant without equipped talent to fill them. The innovation is hoping to change that.

“It’s important because of the alignment with B3K, Better Bakersfield Boundless Kern Initiative and Workforce Development Program. Also because of the enrollment programming and enrollment paths for our students to get those better-paying jobs.”

“They will have those good-paying jobs, and bring in more tax revenue, and really improve the quality of life of people in Kern County,” said Dr. Zelezny.

State legislature will still need to approve the budget, and all will be finalized in June.

One of those voting powers is the senate. Senator Shannon Grove told 23ABC what she thinks about the project: “I support things that we need to do to educate people on the oil industry. Believe it or not, people in San Francisco need oil just as much as we do here in Kern County.”