Solyndra highlights green technology transition

May 26, 2010 6:31:29 PM PDT
The president's visit to Solyndra is another example of what many believe is a huge new growth industry. If that's the case, what does it take to get a green job, what are those jobs specifically, and what are the skills needed to get one?

If you wonder what a green job looks like, ask Dan Purdy. He worked at Intel for 14 years before plant shutdowns last year resulted in 6,000 job losses. Dan was able to transfer his high tech skills to go to work for Solyndra in Fremont. Dan is an engineering manager in the FAB1 factory which manufactures the company's innovative solar panels.

Dan says, "I represent a lot of people who were displaced as industry changed in Silicon Valley. I feel like I'm doing something here at Solyndra that will be meaningful to my children and grandchildren."

Solyndra has 31 job postings on its website, but as soon as its FAB2 plant is constructed, it will have about 1,000 new jobs to offer. They are jobs that range from accounting and sales to highly skilled technical positions in engineering and manufacturing.

The salaries tend to range from $40,000 a year to over $120,000 a year with benefits. J. Kelly Truman, Ph.D. is senior vice president of marketing and development.

Truman says, "If people have the right background, bring them in. We have people who used to work at Intel, used to work at Seagate, used to work at NUMMI. We have people that work from a variety of different backgrounds."

Construction of Solyndra's new 30,000 square foot FAB2 plant is costing $309 million. It's translated into 3,000 direct construction jobs in Fremont, including work for painting coordinator Ed Nava.

Ed tells ABC7, "We all have families and we all have responsibilities and homes that we like to stay in, so work is good."

Solyndra's CEO Chris Gronet, Ph.D. is proud that he is not only helping to build a clean energy future, but also employing U.S. workers in the process.

Gronet, however, says the expansion project and its economic impact would not have been possible without the $535 million government loan.

Gronet says, "If it wasn't for the Department of Energy guaranteed loan, we could not have built this factory in California or the United States."

Community colleges have created entire programs to train people in green tech jobs, but Solyndra's CEO says many of its present and future positions need the talents of experienced high tech innovators. Even the equipment that runs the factory is done in house.

Gronet also mentions, "Most of that equipment, we design and build ourselves which is kind of unique in the solar industry,"

Purdy says for him, working at Solyndra is being a part of a new economy that places a value on the environment.

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