ComEd's first modern and self-built training facility is expected to bring new jobs, better training options, and improved service for residents
500 utilitiy workers will be able to train in pole climbing, manhole and tower rescues, wire stripping, and live substation troubleshooting.
For John Chapman, an overhead lineman of 16 years, the new facility means training more workers and providing better power service to the surrounding area.
"We can run two or three classes at once here because we have multiple classrooms. Then the outside yard is so big and we have the indoor one too, so we'll be able to get more guys out to help," said Chapman.
Before the facility was builty workers had to train outside or in confined trailers, putting them at the mercy of mother nature. The comparison between facilities was like night and day said Chapman.
ComEd Chief Operating Officer Terry Donnelly said the new center will also improve customer service, "We're using it for training but in a storm we can headquarter people here and run storm restoration because that's so critical to our customers."
The new training facility is part of ComEd's $2.6 billion investment to update the existing power grid. The effort was made possible by the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act passed by lawmakers in 2011.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle were optimistic the new facility would enhance the local economy.
Representative Joe Sosnowski of the 69th district said, "Trainees and people from all over the region coming here to Rockford. They'll be catering here and training and using our restaurants and local establishments."
State Senator Steve Stadelman of the 34th district said, "One more piece to the puzzle of trying to move the community forward. It's a big step and hopefully a sign of more things to come because I think it shows the community can come together on this type of project."
ComEd is looking at building a second training facility.