Oklahomans bid for 'green collar' jobs in France

Published: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 7:00 am By: Ron Jenkis

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma officials are in Marseilles, France, trying to interest wind power companies to bring "green collar" jobs to the state.

They are attending the 2009 European Wind Energy Conference, which began Monday and runs through Thursday.

Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Natalie Shirley says officials are positioning the state to become a hub of wind activity, focusing production of wind generating equipment and research.

The Oklahoma delegation includes commerce officials and representatives of the Ardmore Development Authority, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Tulsa Metro Chamber and OG&E Electric Services.

Beth Schmidt, director of marketing at the commerce agency, said members of the delegation left Thursday and Friday. Agency officials on the trip are Sandy Pratt, deputy director for business services, and Charles Kimbrough, head of the job recruitment division.

Shirley said the advance of wind energy and renewable power in Oklahoma means the state can capitalize on one of its most abundant resources to create green-collar jobs.

Oklahoma has more than 700 megawatts of wind generation online. The Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization, expects its nine-state area to produce 8,500 megawatts, with more than half of that coming from Oklahoma between 2020 and 2025.

Oklahoma officials have a goal to make the state the second-largest generator of wind power in the nation by 2030, generating 9 percent of the nation's electricity.

The Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative, a research and resource partnership between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, says the state has about 2.3 times more wind energy potential per square mile than Texas.

"Oklahoma is very appealing to international investors because of our centralized location and position in the heart of the wind corridor," Pratt said in a statement before leaving on the trip.

She said several major wind-related companies from Europe and Asia are currently considering Oklahoma as a place to locate.

Commerce expects the state's emerging wind industry to create 7,000 jobs over the next five years and up to 18,000 jobs within 10 years. That translates to $1.48 billion in total personal income to be created from the wind industry cluster alone.

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