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In The News

PG&E Works to Hire, Support Veterans as Nation Observes Memorial Day

During Memorial Day weekend, communities across California and the nation will remember the men and women of the armed forces who died serving their country. PG&E joins its customers in recognizing these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Erick Varela, a veteran and a PG&E PowerPathway graduate, appeared with Vice President Biden and President Obama at a White House ceremony earlier this year. (Currents Archive Photo.)

While Memorial Day is a time to honor the service of our fallen, it also is an opportunity to thank America’s veterans for their service and recognize their contributions. These men and women serve the American people with distinction and continue to deserve the nation’s gratitude.

Veterans also deserve an opportunity to compete in the civilian workforce, and to find a place to apply the leadership skills and experiences they learned in the military.

As a major employer in California with more than 20,000 employees, PG&E is working to provide such opportunities to veterans, who bring strong and diverse skills to the utility industry.  Over the last several years, the company has stepped up efforts to recruit and retrain veterans and help them adapt their military skills into successful careers in energy through its PowerPathwayTM workforce training program.

This past Tuesday (May 20), PG&E Senior Vice President of Human Resources John Simon testified in Washington, D.C., before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on the importance of hiring veterans. During the hearing, Simon testified that out of 200,000 electric and natural gas utility workers nationwide, an estimated 40 percent are eligible for retirement in the next five years. He noted that with utilities planning to invest nearly $2 trillion to enhance, modernize and make infrastructure more resilient over the next decade, thousands of new workers will be needed.

“Veterans bring valuable skills to the utility industry,” said Simon. “They understand the meaning of service, realize the importance of training and know how to work as a team. These individuals were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and we are committed to providing them with a path forward in life with real career opportunities.”

PG&E's John Simon testified in Congress this week about how the company's PowerPathway program has successfully worked with veterans.(Photo by Ian Wagreich.)

Since 2008, more than 450 people have graduated from PG&E’s PowerPathway, including 250 veterans. Approximately 85 percent of graduates find employment either at PG&E or in the energy industry. Out of the 250 students trained by PowerPathway in 2013, more than 100 were veterans – an increase of 250 percent over 2012.

The program’s success in training and equipping veterans with workforce skills was recognized by President Obama earlier this year. During a White House event on long-term unemployment in January, PowerPathway graduate and PG&E employee Erick Varela shared his struggle to find work after leaving the military.

His life changed when PG&E accepted him for its PowerPathway Bridge to Utility Worker program and in 2010 hired him as an apprentice electrician in Eureka.  “The work PG&E provided restored my purpose in life and they gave me a sense of direction once again,” he said.

As Californians celebrate Memorial Day, PG&E recognizes several PowerPathway graduates and current company employees for their national service and their work to support safe, clean and reliable energy to PG&E’s customers. Their journeys are inspiring examples to all veterans and current military members looking to take the next step in their careers.

Veterans interested in a career in the energy industry can find more information on the PowerPathway program by visiting PG&E’s website at A video providing an overview of the workforce development program is available on YouTube.

About two dozen veterans who recently graduated from the PowerPathway program met with potential employers this week in Sacramento. (Photo by Brandi Ehlers.)

In addition to supporting veterans with jobs, PG&E established a Veterans Employee Resource Group in 2011 designed to support PG&E employees with military experience. In just more than two years, membership has grown above 700. PG&E was also named one of the top 100 military-friendly employers byG.I. Jobs Magazine, the third time the utility has been included in the annual rankings.

Recently, PG&E was honored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) as being an employer which supports its employees who serve in the National Guard and reserves. PG&E also spent $125.5 million with service-disabled veteran business enterprises (DVBE) in 2013 – a new company standard and what amounts to an increase of nearly 160 percent over the last five years.

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