By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD – It was a perfect pairing: Hundreds of energy-industry leaders gathered to discuss the future of energy at the Kern County Energy Summit. And, PG&E representatives also were on hand to present a check to help guide future energy leaders.
PG&E presented a $15,000 check today (Nov. 13) to the Kern Economic Development Corporation’s Foundation to support high school mentoring programs for those interested in energy careers. The EDC Foundation oversees energy-related mentoring programs at three area high schools.
The contribution was made in front of a lunch-time audience where PG&E’s Kristen Doud, a Bakersfield-based community relations representative, talked about the utility’s support of education. She said the utility understands that “the future of California is the students in our classrooms around the state.”
Doud also talked about PG&E’s support – both financial and with volunteer mentors — of the New Energy Academy (NEA) at Independence High School. The Bakersfield NEA is one of five PG&E-funded, first-of-its-kind academies in Northern and Central California. This year, there are 12 local PG&E employees assisting in the effort to mentor 160 students; other companies are also involved in the mentoring program.
Independence High students and their instructor, Kim Woolf, talked about the success of the academy program including how it has attracted a large number of female students. Fifty-four percent of the NEA students are female. Woolf also said that 97 percent of students going through the program have gone on to college.
“PG&E has been very supportive … of all of our programs,” Patricia Marquez, program manager and foundation liaison for Kern EDC, told the audience.
The seventh annual Kern County Energy Summit, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, brought together energy-industry leaders and stakeholders to discuss common interests and issues. PG&E was a silver sponsor of the summit and had a booth at the event.
The event featured keynote speaker Bob Foster, mayor of Long Beach and former president of Southern California Edison. Foster spent 40 years in the energy industry and worked as a staffer in the California State Senate and California Energy Commission where he established statewide, energy-efficiency standards.
The summit is a growing annual event in Kern County where energy is a major industry.
According the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Kern County leads the state in oil and natural gas production. Kern County produces approximately 75 percent of California’s in-state oil and about 58 percent of the state’s total natural gas. And, the county is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy as the home to an increasing number of solar and wind farms.
E-mail Tracy Correa at Tracy.Correa@pge.com