Written by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, WSPA President
I think we can all agree that over the last several months it’s become clear that people – and communities – are stronger when they come together. It’s always been my opinion that the same is true for businesses and organizations, in the form of collaboration and strategic partnerships. No one company or entity can be as successful as possible when completely siloed, and no single person, group or organization has all the answers all the time.
The oil and gas industry has a rich history of mutually beneficial collaborations that have driven industry innovation, business success, policy alignment and vast economic growth for decades. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar titled “Energy Opportunities to Secure the Economic Vitality of our Region,” put on by leading voices from Kern County, and the topic of collaborations for a stronger future was front and center.
The partnership between Bakersfield College, Kern Community College District and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is one that the entire California energy industry should applaud. Bringing private and public partners together is an essential step in working towards a sustainable energy future that serves all Californians. And the webinar audience got to hear from a variety of experts on how important the oil and gas industry is to Kern County, and what the future may hold if academia, research, policy and industry can come together to meet tomorrow’s energy challenges.
There’s no doubt that this collaborative group will do great things, and drive innovations that will contribute to a sustainable energy future. But to that regard, I was particularly impressed with the observations of one of my fellow presenters, Lorelei Oviatt, Director, Kern County Planning and Natural Resources. She astutely noted that while we’re all excited about innovation and partnering to develop new technologies, not all ideas will work to meet California’s insatiable energy needs. She applauded the resilience of the oil and gas industry for reliably powering our state, which has “made it work in California” a state that hasn’t always made delivering energy easy.
You see, exciting partnerships don’t just happen in Silicon Valley or New York City. What people sometimes forget is that our industry has always thrived through collaboration. Sometimes that comes through partnering for new technologies. But often times it comes in the form of coming together to solve big problems and deliver solutions – solutions that keep businesses and consumers moving, and keep the lights on.
In the last year alone, we’ve faced a pandemic, an economic crisis and an energy shortage that hurt our state when we were at our most vulnerable. Inclusive innovation and collaboration – like what this Kern County partnership is working to accomplish – is going to be necessary in addressing how we can continue to provide continuous, safe, reliable, affordable energy for all of our neighbors.
And as we continue to adapt to meet the ever-growing and changing energy demands of the future, we will have to support a diverse energy mix that considers all available technologies, options and policies. Some of which, I imagine, may come out of partnerships like this!