Mark Zuckerberg Visits Texoma to Learn About Wind Farms
We've seen plenty of fake news stories about celebrities coming to our area, but this time it's real. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, made a stop in Texoma this week as part of his Year of Travel challenge.
Throughout the year, Zuckerberg has been traveling to every state with the goal of meeting new people and learning about their part of the country. The trip will end this Friday, with a live discussion in Kansas to talk about what he learned. Before the trip came to a close, he made a stop in Duncan, Oklahoma to meet with workers at a local wind farm and discuss alternative energy uses in the heart of oil country.
According to KSWO, Zuckerberg stayed in a hotel in Duncan on Tuesday night and spent the day in the town before moving onward to Oklahoma City. Zuckerberg wrote an account of his time in Texoma in a post on his personal Facebook page:
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.
The visit to the region isn't that bizarre considering Facebook's recent history. Earlier this year, Facebook opened a new data center in the Fort Worth area. Zuckerberg has also talked in the past about wanted to run his company off of wind energy.
BONUS: Abandoned Texoma - Episodes 1-4