A sunny Wednesday morning might have looked like the culmination of several years of work for Stacy Lamb, when in reality, it is the beginning of the next phase of work building a world-class training facility. Now that shovels of dirt have been turned to kick off the groundbreaking for the facility dubbed Flint Gas City, what once seemed like a long-shot idea is one step closer to reality.

“My heart is really full today. We have spent the last six years refining what we want for the company,” said Lamb, director of Learning, Development and Technology for Consumers Energy. “This is really for our front-line workers. They are out serving our customers and we want to provide them with top-notch training.”

Those front-line workers build, maintain, and operate natural gas infrastructure for the company throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula. Once complete, Flint Gas City will give them a chance to learn in an environment built specifically for their needs, where instructors can create training scenarios for them like gas leak simulations, corrosion monitoring, and service hook ups in a controlled environment.

When completed by the winter of 2022, the $10.1 million facility will include:

  • A mock neighborhood of mini-homes and businesses with functioning pipelines, meters and other natural gas facilities
  • An outdoor space for practicing heavy equipment use in a safe, controlled environment
  • A controlled outdoor area to practice fighting natural gas fires

For Tim Gohr, vice president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, this type of investment in people is key for the safety of Consumers Energy employees and the communities they serve.

“Those that are going to come through Flint Gas City are going to be given the tools to perform their work in a world-class way. We’re taking their learning from the classroom and we’re making it a reality here in the field before we go out (to a neighborhood),” said Gohr.

Flint Gas City will occupy 1.4 acres at the company’s Flint Service Center, just a few miles from where senior vice president of Operations LeeRoy Wells graduated from high school. To him, this investment in people and in Flint just makes sense.

 “When it comes to training the next generations to work safely and to serve our customers, there is no better place to do that than right here in Flint, Michigan,” said Wells.