OKLAHOMA CITY – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was seen across Oklahoma this week.
As part of his “Year of Travel challenge,” Zuckerberg came to Oklahoma Wednesday.
He started off the day in Duncan, Okla., where he visited a wind farm.
“I’m in Oklahoma on the last trip of my Year of Travel challenge. I’ve got a few more stops and then Friday morning I’m doing a live discussion in Kansas about what I’ve learned this year.
In Oklahoma I visited a wind farm outside Duncan. Oklahoma is oil country, and they’re still the third highest producer of natural gas of any state. But as technology improves and costs get lower, renewable energy is catching up. Oklahoma is on track to become the nation’s second biggest producer of wind energy behind Texas. One of the managers told me wind is now 17% of Oklahoma’s energy.
For the workers I met, they said working in wind energy is a more sustainable lifestyle than oil and gas. Oil prices are volatile, and any oil well eventually taps oil, so you have to move from place to place, often working shifts a few weeks away from home at a time. By contrast, wind is renewable and doesn’t run out, so the jobs are more consistent and sustainable.
For people in the community, they also said wind is more sustainable. In recent years, Oklahoma has started having earthquakes — which they believe are from fracking — when they never had earthquakes before.
I was also curious to understand the affect of technology on the work. A lot of people focus on whether technology creates or destroys jobs. I’ve seen both this year –improving tech has created more jobs in some industries and in others it has eliminated jobs. But perhaps the more common dynamic I’ve seen is that the number of jobs stays about the same, but in order to operate the increasingly advanced technology, people need more training and therefore get more pay.
That seemed to be the case here. More efficient wind turbines means we need fewer turbines to produce the energy we need. But the turbines are more advanced and more complex to operate, so almost everyone I met had gone to special training programs to get these higher paying jobs.
It’s clear that wind and renewables are the future — both economically and environmentally. That’s why we power every new data center we’ve built at Facebook with 100% renewable energy, with a lot coming from wind. Places like Oklahoma are showing that what’s good for the environment can also be good for the economy.”
After his stop in Duncan, Zuckerberg headed to Oklahoma City, where he met with Dreamers, children of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age.
In his post about Oklahoma City, he said that he was inspired by the Dreamers he met, adding that it was a good reminder of the need to pass the Dream Act before the end of the year.
The Facebook CEO said he plans to visit other locations before heading to Kansas Friday.