A veteran's path to solar


April 04, 2016

Esmeralda "Esie" Ramirez’s life changed over a cup of coffee. An army veteran, she had recently returned from the Middle East, where she spent twelve years as a civilian working in fuel security in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, receiving and testing fuel shipped in for convoys and other military transport vehicles.

“It was a high risk position. We were targets, and without fuel everything stops,” she said. “When I returned, I just wanted to do something totally different. I saw the commercial for GRID while having my coffee one morning. I found that very interesting so I volunteered with the Fresno office.” A few months later, she was offered a position as one of eight PG&E sponsored SolarCorps Construction Fellows serving in California offices this year. Now instead of fuel security, she’s providing energy security for families in need.

Born in Mexico, Esie came to California’s Central Valley when she was six years old. With five children to care for, Esie’s mother began working in a packing factory and her father began his career as a truck driver. Esie says she wanted to join the army from an early age after watching a lot of GI Joe. When she finished high school she enlisted, serving four years as a Petroleum Supply Specialist (77F), stationed in Colorado, Texas and Hawaii.  “It was hard you know, but once it was all said and done it was the funnest experience I’ve ever had.”  When she was done, she took a job with a military contractor.

Now as a SolarCorps Fellow, she translates the many skills she acquired during her service as she continues to serve her community through solar, skills like patience, dedication and leadership that are needed to lead a crew of volunteers.  “I love the opportunity to keep helping. I feel like I am actually making a difference. You actually get that satisfaction and the reward.”

Esie is particularly eager to be part of GRID’s expanding Troops to Solar program and help other vets get the same opportunity she’s had. “I want to go to the VA hospitals when they are coming home and do presentations about solar, give them a new path and new career. In the military you serve your country, and here I get to serve individuals, people that really need the help. Yeah, I help, it’s cool to say that.”

Learn more about our SolarCorps program!