HOLTVILLE — With a 26.8 percent unemployment rate in Imperial County, Tenaska Inc. and First Solar held a Solar Job Fair on Friday, as the next step toward hiring locally.
“They help us meet new employees in a structured place, where instead of being out in the street searching for a job, we come to them,” participant David Hartsock said.
The fair held at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort had 1,153 participants from the county come out to discover available jobs within the solar industry. This set a new record for job fair attendance held by Tenaska Inc. and First Solar.
“I think that both Tenaska and First Solar are really excited to be able to offer local jobs to qualified workers in the area,” First Solar Sustainability and Community Affairs Director Laura Abram said. “We are thrilled to be able to offer these opportunities.”
With Tenaska and First Solar hiring for two upcoming projects, the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project, which is being developed, and Campo Verde Solar Project, which will get under way later this year, anticipation to be a part of the labor force developing these projects was felt throughout the room.
“The Tenaska project is under construction now and we’ll be ramping that construction activity up over the next couple of month hiring 250 to 350 employees, and that will sustain out to about third quarter of 2013,” said First Solar Director of Engineering Anthony Perrino.
“The Campo Verde project will start third quarter of this year and again we will ramp up to 250 to 350 employees and that will go to the third or fourth quarter 2013,” he said.
Jobs available for these projects are laborers for the structural steel components of the modules, operators for forklifts, and electrical jobs, particularly for applicants who are skilled electricians, Perrino said.
Questions many participants had during the Solar Job Fair were related to what would happen once the project was completed.
“A lot of people look at these construction jobs as short-term jobs, but I think what they’re doing is getting the skills and hopefully a new solar industry comes so that this can be something they can apply to other jobs in the future as this industry grows,” Abram said.
Tenaska also has another project in store called Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West. The project is under development, said Tenaska Project Manager Vasu Pinapati.
“Ideally once we complete certain milestones with one project we hope to break ground and start construction for the other projects starting the first quarter of 2013,” said Pinapati. “There is a good chance that the people that are working on this project, once construction is completed, will get the opportunity for the another project Tenaska is building,” he continued.
“Solar is really committed to hiring locally and becoming part of the communities in which we’re building the world’s largest power plants. This is the future. We’re creating energy of the future and that is creating the jobs of the future,” Abram said.
“It great to see a corporation take care of a hometown,” participant Doug Denman said.
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