New training center to bring hundreds of workers to Rockford - – Rockford’s News Leader

New training center to bring hundreds of workers to Rockford

ComEd Training Center in Rockford. ComEd Training Center in Rockford.
Trainee at indoor pole climbing center. Trainee at indoor pole climbing center.
Substation workers can train on. Substation workers can train on.
Workers train on a rescue. Workers train on a rescue.

ComEd commits to the Rockford area workforce with a training facility to power employee growth. And if you are a ComEd customer you helped pay for it.

You may remember this new facility came as part of the Smart Grid bill. Illinois lawmakers agreed to raise rates in exchange for an upgraded electric system, plus Rockford got this new training center.

"Today is an important piece to deliver on the promises that we've partaken which is to deliver a training center and a commitment to jobs and a commitment to our employees," says Terry Donnelly, ComEd COO

The Smart Grid bill allowed ComEd to build this $8-million training facility. It teaches linemen how to work on the grid ComEd is currently updating. It includes  an indoor and outdoor pole climbing yard, classrooms... A full working substation and a manhole rescue center. A big change from what Rockford's training center used to be.

"We had two 35 year old trailers that didn't have running water so they had to use porta-potties. On a day like this imagine having to use a porta-potty. For women they would have to go up to the main building in order to use the restroom," says Julie Snow, ComEd training manager

Plus all the new indoor space allows instructors to keep on schedule.

"It gives us a chance if we have a bad day weather-wise we can work inside so the training doesn't stall itself we can continue with what we are working on," says Matt Tinsley, ComEd trainee.

But when bad weather hits the center will also have another use.

"This very facility we can actually use for storm response to headquarters a command staff not only are we using it for training but in a storm we can headquarters people here and run storm restoration because that is so critical to our customers," says Donnelly.

This training facility is one of two that will be built as part of ComEd's $2.6 billion plan to modernize the electric grid.

The plan to put smart meters in homes and business has been delayed until 2015. The Illinois Commerce Commission didn't agree with the full amount of the rate hike. ComEd says it will postpone adding in those new meters but is already upgrading cables and switches. The new rate hike already went into effect in January to start to pay for the grid overhaul.

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