As part of his “Year of Travel” challenge, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently stopped by a wind farm in Oklahoma to explore what wind energy is bringing to the state.
In a Facebook post published on Wednesday, the billionaire entrepreneur wrote that during his visit to a wind project outside Duncan – NextEra Energy Resources’ Rush Springs Wind Energy Center – he learned from workers at the facility that Oklahoma is “on track to become the nation’s second-biggest producer of wind energy behind Texas”; that “working in wind energy is a more sustainable lifestyle than oil and gas,” even though Oklahoma is still the third-biggest natural gas producer in the U.S.; and that wind is providing high-paying jobs.
“For the workers I met, they said working in wind energy is a more sustainable lifestyle than oil and gas,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”
Regarding the notion that new technology can both create and kill jobs, he said, “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,” he continued.
In response to a comment from a “12-year veteran of the oilfield,” who wrote that “[w]ithout the jobs we have done through the years, nothing that you have built would have been possible,” Zuckerberg maintained that he has “a lot of respect for everyone working in [the oil] industry.” He then pointed to two visits he made earlier in the year to an oil drill ship in the Gulf of Mexico and to a fracking facility in North Dakota.
During his North Dakota visit in July, Zuckerburg said, “I believe stopping climate change is one of the most important challenges of our generation. Given that, I think it’s even more important to learn about our energy industry, even if it’s controversial. I encourage all of you to get out and learn about all perspectives on issues you care about, too.”
Facebook, which has a goal of powering at least 50% of its global energy with renewables in 2018 and an eventual goal of 100%, uses wind to power a number of its U.S. data centers.