Commonwealth Edison Co. opened its new training facility in Rockford. Built as part of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), or the "Smart Grid bill," the facility will provide training to employees.
Featuring indoor and outdoor training space with major innovations, including a mock electrical substation that can be energized for instruction purposes, the new facility will provide an ideal learning environment for more than 500 utility workers annually.
"Members of the general assembly who created and passed the smart grid bill in 2011 recognized that training and skill development to build a digital electric infrastructure will be essential," said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. "As we modernize the electric grid, the Rockford training center will help our employees enhance their skills to monitor, manage and maintain a 21st century electric grid. They also will gain important background and training to achieve ComEd's world-class standards for safety, customer service and operational excellence."
Located on the grounds of ComEd's Rockford headquarters on Energy Avenue, the new training and education center features 34,000 square feet of indoor training space and 85,000 square feet of outdoor training space. ComEd will seek certification for the building from the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) in coming months.
The facility includes:
· Indoor and outdoor pole climbing yards featuring 30-foot utility poles with soft base flooring, a 28-foot transmission tower, and an indoor catwalk for instructors to get closer to trainees while they climb;
· A full-size manhole rescue station which provides critical training for the unique nature of confined space rescues, a hazard for many ComEd employees;
· Indoor and outdoor substation training areas, complete with underground cable bays, which can be energized for training on live equipment, as well as a key safety feature that enables remote power disconnection;
· Classrooms, a 100-seat lecture hall, and – for school groups and tours – a customer education area that features a mock kitchen equipped with smart appliances;
· An auxiliary storm training center from which additional manpower can be dispatched to expand storm restoration capabilities; and
· A meter shop complete with all major meter fittings available throughout ComEd service territories.
The Rockford facility was made possible because of the Smart Grid bill, which encompasses ComEd's $2.6 billion investment, creating 2,000 jobs, modernizing the existing power grid and adding new, digital smart grid and smart meter technologies that will transform the delivery of electricity to homes and businesses.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with about 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to about 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.