Most jobs involve training. Usually it involves classroom instruction, reviewing videos and other education. And in some cases, the best training is experienced on the job, working alongside a seasoned co-worker. But what if you could have a place to not just learn about the job, but experience it in a controlled environment?
Welcome to Flint Gas City, a 1.4 acre “city” that includes functioning pipelines, meters and other natural gas infrastructure. It is made up of small homes with working appliances, a simulated apartment building, a commercial and industrial area, regulation station and more.
This week we celebrated the opening of Flint Gas City, a state-of-the-art, immersive training facility for hundreds of our employees who build and operate natural gas infrastructure in the state. The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended not only by Consumers Energy co-workers, but MSUWC representatives and Flint city officials, including Mayor Sheldon Neeley.
Speakers at the event highlighted the significance of Flint Gas City not only as a training tool for Consumers Energy employees, but as a representation of what is possible when energy providers, union leadership and local officials collaborate to help build up the next generation of energy workers.
“We are committed to building the workforce of the future to ensure we safely and reliably deliver natural gas to our customers, and this world-class facility is a tangible representation of that commitment,” said LeeRoy Wells, Jr., senior vice president of operations. “We are deeply grateful for our partnerships with the MSUWC and the city of Flint to bring this project to fruition and look forward to seeing the impact it will have and the workforce it will grow for years to come.”
Consumers Energy and MSUWC partnered to develop the $10.1 million facility. As with our Marshall Training Facility for lineworkers, Flint Gas City will immerse trainees in the environments, equipment and scenarios that natural gas workers encounter on the job. After nearly two years of construction and development, the ceremony marked the formal opening of the site, which is expected to train hundreds of natural gas workers every year, in addition to emergency first responders.
“Flint Gas City is a great example of how the partnership between Consumers Energy and the Utility Workers Union is working to provide safe, best in class training to all of our members who keep the public safe and provide exceptional service to our customers,” said Craig Wright, president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council. “This state-of-the-art training center, along with our process of utilizing qualified Union employees, will provide for a great training opportunity.”
The first-of-its-kind site enables natural gas workers to receive training and manage practice scenarios in a real-world setting.
“At Consumers Energy safety for our customers and our employees is one of our top priorities, and the training we’re able to provide with this facility will help ensure we’re able to continue delivering on that goal,” said Josh Sturgis, one of the instructors at Flint Gas City. “Allowing our workers to learn about and practice the work they will encounter on the job in a controlled but real environment ensures they are prepared for multiple scenarios at a job site before they’re out in the field. That kind of training is critical to ensure they can keep themselves, their coworkers and our customers safe.”
We are carrying out a 10-year, $11 billion plan to ensure delivery is more safe, reliable, affordable and clean than ever before for our 1.8 million customers across Michigan
Learn more about how Flint Gas City went from concept to reality and how it will provide real-world training to our natural gas teams.