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Powering jobs in the New Energy Economy: Meet Irene Gamez
By Tracy Idell Hamilton on January 7, 2014
Irene Gamez, 38, is an assembly technician for KACO new energy.
Irene is trained to do just about every one of the delicate and precise jobs on the assembly line at KACO new energy’s 56,000 square foot manufacturing plant, which just opened on Binz-Engleman Road, from putting inverter assembly kits together to wiring up components.
KACO new energy’s San Antonio location also produces Integrated Power Stations, part of its work for OCI Solar Power, which is building 400 MW of solar farms as part of its agreement to sell the power for 25 years to CPS Energy. The first 41 MW site just went live.
We spoke with Irene as part of our ongoing series “Powering jobs in the New Energy Economy” to highlight some the diverse San Antonians hired to fill the more than 270 jobs already created by CPS Energy’s partner companies.
What did you do before you began working for KACO new energy?
“I was a CNA, a certified nursing assistant, at a physical rehabilitation center. I had no manufacturing experience.”
How did you come to apply for an assembly-line job?
“A friend told me KACO was hiring, so I looked it up online, and saw that it was part of the green power industry, so I was interested. I did have some warehouse experience. KACO trained me, and now I know how to do every step. I also do some field work.”
What are some of the challenges and rewards you’ve found working in a new industry?
“It was a lot to learn at first, but I am very self-motivated. It was a challenge but I achieved it and I’m proud of myself. I’m the only girl out here on the floor. I also had really good teachers. The reward is definitely seeing the finished product, and knowing that we’re contributing to conserving our planet.”
Any advice for those seeking to change careers, like you did?
“You definitely have to want to do it. But if you really do, you’ll put in the effort to succeed.”