Consumers Energy broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art natural gas training facility, named Flint Gas City.
The center will train more than 1,500 Consumers Energy employees who build, maintain and operate natural gas infrastructure.
“Flint Gas City is a breakthrough initiative that directly impacts our goal to provide world-class performance and deliver hometown service,” said Tonya Berry, vice president of gas operations at Consumers Energy. “This facility, along with our training team, will provide the best possible preparation for our current and future workforce.”
The training center is designed for the natural gas industry and has a command center where instructors will create and control various training scenarios such as gas leak simulations, service hook-ups, utility locating, leak detections and corrosion monitoring.
"We must have a safe gas system for our coworkers and communities. And it's very important that we show people more than we just tell them. And so we're trying to make sure we connect to those different types of learning styles out there, right?" Berry said.
Consumer Energy leaders were joined by Congressman Dan Kildee and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley for the groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 13.
“The development of this learning center in conjunction with the Michigan State Utility Workers Council is a testament to our strong partnership and commitment to ensuring our employees have the necessary training and resources to deliver safe, reliable natural gas to the communities where we live and serve,” said Amanda Wagenschutz, vice president of people and culture operations at Consumers Energy.
Developed in partnership with the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, the $10.1 million facility will be located at the Flint Service Center at 3201 E. Court Street. Construction is expected to be completed in winter 2022.
“This new state-of-the-art training center will build on our safety culture and commitment by providing an immersive experience with the equipment, scenarios and environments our natural gas workers deal with every day,” said Craig Wright, president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council.
Consumers Energy said it will also partner with local first responders to coordinate natural gas safety training opportunities for emergency responders.
"You can't teach effectively in a classroom what people might experience when they're actually responding to a gas leak or a gas emergency. And so this really allows us to create those scenarios to really train people more effectively for the future," Wagenschutz said.
The "gas city" will help teach more than 1500 employees across the state.