Solar soars as oil fights layoffs

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 12:08:25-05
The number of solar jobs increased by 35,000 in 2015 while oil and gas industries cut nearly 17,000 jobs just last year. Here in Kern County, local solar business are seeing former oil workers jump to presumably brighter pastures. 
"In the last six months, our trend is up 60% of our new hires are coming from the oil industry," said Jeff Periera, owner of Sun Solar.
In the past few years, solar energy has burst onto the scene as oil struggles to remain strong.
"Kern County specifically tends to be one of the strongest markets for solar in the US year after year," said Gregg Fisher, CEO of Bland Solar & Air.
This sharp contrast between oil decline and solar success enticed solar companies to look to former oil workers to fill expanding job openings. 
"We noticed it starting about a year ago, we started advertising for it even. In fact, just in the last six months, it's really been a lot more prevalent than before," said Periera.
John Pavletich, co-owner of PAV Solar, another local solar company in Kern County, says that in the past two months, he has seen anywhere from 8-10 former oil workers fill out job interest forms a week.
Whether oil comes back to full strength remains to be seen, but for solar, the growth is expected to increase in the near future.
"Energy is something that everyone has to have so we anticipate not just for the next four to five years but really for the foreseeable future that the renewable market, specifically the solar space, continues to be a strong one, especially in Kern County," said Fisher.