BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says there are now more jobs in Kern County tied to the solar industry than the oil industry.
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Schwarzenegger and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about their efforts to bring awareness to climate change and environmental issues through a climate coalition known as “World War Zero.”
“In California, Bakersfield, where there is big oil drilling, there are more solar jobs now than oil jobs,” said Schwarzenegger. “People are leaving the oil to go to solar.”
But, in Kern known for being the biggest oil-producing county in the nation, could this be true?
“We know that not to be true, ” said Megan Person, director of countywide communications.
Person, director of countywide communications helped us fact-check Schwarzenegger’s statement.
“Our numbers indicate that jobs just in the direct oil industry are right around 14,000 and if you include those that we call indirect, those that service equipment and so on that number comes up to around 24,000 jobs,” says Person.
Person adds, at any given time, the county estimates there are 2,500 available solar jobs in all of Kern. And they are just in construction, she says
“We don’t have the research and the maintenance jobs which are the higher jobs that we would like to bring here,” said Person.
So apart from solar jobs only being temporary in our county, the pay for these positions is significantly lower than those working in oil.
“A solar installer, their salary is a $40-45,000, whereas an oil salary is $80-85,000,” said Person.
“Kern County is still king and it will be king for a really long time,” said Chad Hathaway, owner of an independent oil company in Kern. “We produce 75% of California’s oil here.”
Person says the oil industry is growing here in Kern. She says the county hopes to see more jobs in solar research and maintenance available, but for now, oil remains on top in Kern.