Valley Strong Energy Institute

About the Institute

Bakersfield College and Kern Community College District have expanded their energy partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to include Valley Strong Credit Union. We are excited to announce that the Bakersfield College Energy Technology Transfer & Workforce Development Initiative is now the Valley Strong Energy Institute.

A secure and stable energy future depends on an innovative coalition of public and private partners in an interconnected market where instability creates short-term winners and losers. Only the research capabilities of national laboratories and research universities, deployed for the workplace and workforce in a broad public/private alliance, have the potential to both hedge against short-term volatility and create long-term stability.

Media Coverage

Kern County LocationSolar panels in power plant in Bakersfield.

Kern County is an ideal location for an energy program because it hosts energy resources that exceed those of almost every state in the nation. Kern County contains or borders on major wind, solar, and biomass, and holds some of the most productive oil fields in the world, ranked number one in the state and fifth in the nation in oil production.

Kern County leads in the growing need for and development of energy storage—battery storage, underground energy storage and/or any newly developed energy storage technology that is refined in the future. That is what this program is all about, technology and our bright minded students, coming together

The county is a leader in innovating new energy technologies in the fields of solar and wind energy, biomass, geothermal and hydrogen. The Tehachapi/Mojave wind resource area (WRA) is known as the Wind Capitol of the West and one of the highest producing wind power regions in the nation with sustained winds of Class 4 and higher. In addition, the East Kern Mojave Desert has some of the best solar resources in the nation.

The Owens Valley/Mojave area is part of the desert solar corridor and home to many of the utility scale solar power plants in the country. The county hosts a significant footprint of distributed solar and wind for residential and commercial use, Meanwhile, Kern County leads in the growing need for and development of energy storage—battery storage, water storage, and underground energy storage.


Why Bakersfield CollegeWindmills in the Mojave Desert.

This partnership was developed to eventually establish a campus with the goal of expanding the energy sector here in Kern County. This partnership will support an innovative coalition of public and private partners committed to addressing (1) research (2) policy issues (3) workforce development and (4) innovative projects in the energy sector.

Bakersfield College will play a leadership role in:

  1. Providing critical job training to the region to ensure an economically inclusive expansion of the energy sector, including commercial scale alternative energy generation
  2. Facilitating strategic research and statewide discussions on the diversification of energy issues
  3. Convening industries in the energy sector, governmental agencies, technical experts, and institutions of higher learning to offer a “safe zone” for substantive conversations which may serve to influence state and local energy policy


NREL will serve as a strategic technical partner to help guide and advise on the creation of the program at Bakersfield College, a content partner to support Bakersfield College students and students in the Central Valley, as well as faculty with cutting-edge knowledge on renewable energy technologies, and a research partner on local and regional pilot programs that sit at the nexus of energy, land, agriculture and water use in Kern County.

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