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Couch's Corner: Tasteful Selections microgrid groundbreaking great for Kern County

I love it when ag and energy work together in Kern County to show the world how to do things better. This week, it happened again in Arvin at Tasteful Selections, a pioneer producer and distributor of the world’s bite-sized potatoes.

On March 24, District 4 staff were on hand to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for an innovative new microgrid energy technology created by Concentric Power Inc. that will help Tasteful Selections maintain production while weathering any disruptions in grid power. The technology uses solar, natural gas, and batteries in a smart technology that optimizes performance while keeping energy costs at their lowest. It is truly another example of using the best minds and technologies to find solutions to our problems associated with food production, power outages, carbon emissions, energy costs and sustainability.

My friends Nathan and Bob Bender, Tasteful Selections chief operating officer and president, respectively, deserve credit for being willing to invest in this new green technology. But they are smart business people and know their investment will bear fruit in lower energy costs, increased production and better quality assurance. They know in the long term their bottom line will be enhanced. And that is good news for the 163 Tasteful Selections employees and the thousands of farmers, laborers, processors and distributors who work in and around Tasteful Selections to feed the world, one bite-sized potato at a time.

For Tasteful Selections to be successful though, they need power that is cheap and sustainable, and with the innovative Concentric Power Inc. technology, they finally have it. Their microgrid technology allows them to essentially locate a power plant where a grid may not be available or dependable, anywhere in the world. When you think about the potential for agriculture anywhere in the world, that they can generate reliable power wherever the crops grow best, this promises great opportunity for food production where it is most needed and most fertile. We’re thankful CEO Brian Curtis has chosen Arvin as his first location in the valley for this smart microgrid technology.

This project is exciting to me because it’s another component of Kern County’s “all of the above” approach to energy, where renewable energy like wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, etc., can exist side by side with oil and gas production. And what I like the most about it is that rather than spend time debating which form of energy production is best, it uses innovation to make all forms better. Using Concentric’s smart technology, Tasteful Selections will be using energy from the grid or from it’s own power production whenever those options make the most sense as far as cost and availability.

California needs to learn from this model, what we in Kern County already know, that innovation can lead us to solutions where “all of the above” energy options provide us with the cleanest air, the least carbon emissions, energy and economic security, jobs, and sustainable growth. Just like our energy options shouldn’t be one or the other, our innovative solutions don’t have to be one or the other either, but all of the above. Let’s work together, not against each other, to optimize our energy options, just like they are doing at Tasteful Selections.

Feel free to contact our office at district4@kerncounty.com or call us at 661-868-3680. Thanks and have a safe week.

David Couch represents Kern County’s 4th District.