HECA project offers clean energy, jobs & boost in oil production – Bakersfield Californian OpEd Column

Bakersfield Californian

Jobs now, jobs in future, clean energy: Kern should lead the way

The Bakersfield Californian, via Bakersfield.com      Sept. 16, 2010

Opinion column by Robin Fleming, senior manager of business development, Kern Economic Development Corp.

Jobs now, jobs in the future, investment in clean energy. These are the words used by the Department of Energy to characterize the agency’s support of the Hydrogen Energy California power generation project proposed in west Kern County. The HECA power plant continues the arduous journey through the public permitting process, yet even before it pumps a single kilowatt of clean power to homes and businesses around the state, local communities are already experiencing its benefits.

The HECA facility is the kind of economic development force and new investment this county needs and should support. It represents over $2 billion in capital investment in Kern County. It will generate 1,500 construction jobs over three years and several hundred direct and indirect jobs over the life of the facility, not to mention the millions of dollars of new local tax revenues.

This brighter future is illustrated by the support the project receives in western Kern County. Recently, Scott Meier, principal of the Elk Hills School in Tupman, said the “project provides students hope for meaningful careers in clean technology in a part of the county that sometimes lacks new employment opportunities.”

The HECA project also will employ technology that will help reduce dependence on foreign oil and revive some west Kern County oil fields — not something to take lightly in this region with a rich history of domestic production. The power plant would generate low-carbon electricity while capturing 90 percent of the carbon dioxide that normal power plants might emit. A local oil company would take that CO2 and inject it deep into its underground sandstone reservoirs to assist in recovering oil that would otherwise remain in the field — while simultaneously sequestering the CO2 within the oil field, keeping it from the atmosphere where it may contribute to global climate change. …

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