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Solar panel firm seeks to fill jobs in growing market

Morgan Aguilar
May 23, 2017 06:46 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  -- Local company Affordable Solar is getting creative in an effort to find qualified employees in New Mexico.

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The company has signed on to build three solar farms for the Facebook data center coming to Los Lunas. Construction is set to start in July, and Friday morning Affordable Solar still needed to fill 54 positions.

"The biggest challenge we're seeing locally is filling positions for qualified electricians that have experience," said Kevin Bassalleck, president of Affordable Solar.

Bassalleck thinks New Mexico’s skilled workers may be moving elsewhere.

"My opinion is there's sort of a relative lack of construction activity in New Mexico compared to surrounding states," he said.

For the first time, the company put up a billboard advertising the job openings. They’ve been using social media and job fairs to find the perfect employees.

These are full-time jobs. The pay range for installers is $15 to $19 per hour and $24 to $33 per hour for electricians. Affordable Solar hopes to expand its employee base by about 50 percent with the projects related to the Facebook data center from about 100 employees to more than 150.

Turnout at a job fair on Friday was a positive sign the outreach is working. 

"We install solar panels, do some of the electrical work on there also,” said Eric Caballero, a job seeker who drove to Albuquerque from Deming with his friends. He feels there is job security in New Mexico’s solar industry right now. "I think it's growing pretty fast, from where I started to now."

Bassalleck says they ended up receiving 58 applications at Friday's job fair. He says there were some strong candidates, and they made several job offers on the spot. He expects they'll bring on about a dozen new employees out of the applicants. 

"With these kinds of projects and utilities like PNM leading the way and coming up with these sort of initiatives, we think there's a lot more of these to come, so we're excited," he said.

Credits

Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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