Joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ComEd last month held the grand opening of its new Chicago Training Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood. The facility will provide significant economic and community benefits while meeting the need to train current and future workers on managing a modern electric delivery system.
The Chicago Training Center, and its sister facility in Rockford, were made possible by the smart grid law passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2011. The smart grid law opened the doors for ComEd to modernize its 100-year old electric delivery system and provide customers with improved power reliability and more programs and options to manage electricity usage, while also enhancing economic development in Illinois and building smart infrastructure for the future.
The new facility is the second training center that ComEd has built from the ground up in its 130-plus-year history. It is specially designed to educate and train the workforce of the future. The center features 50,000 square feet of classroom and indoor training space, a 240,000-square-foot outside training yard and a 200-seat auditorium. The facility also includes substation and meter training areas, an indoor pole yard, lead splicing bays for underground cable and manhole training areas. Additionally, the facility will serve as an auxiliary storm center to help expand ComEd’s resource coordination during significant storms.
“This training and education center reflects the innovative spirit that runs throughout our organization,” said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd’s president and CEO. “It also demonstrates our commitment to our people, customers and communities as this brand new facility will play an enormously important role in helping to train the workforce of the future, provide new opportunities to Chicago students and better serve our customers with innovative technologies of a modern grid.”
ComEd expects more than 4,000 employees will receive training at the facility annually and over 6,000 members of the public will visit the facility each year for educational tours. The center is decorated with art from Project Onward participants, a program at the Bridgeport Arts Center that supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness. Another center feature is the Smart Energy Hub, a one-of-a kind interactive station designed to help elementary, middle high school students and adults learn about how electricity is generated and delivered, the technologies available to manage electricity usage and save money on electric bills, and how ComEd is helping to build a community of the future. Nearly 70 groups, representing more than 1,800 visitors, are already signed up to visit the new Chicago Training Center.
ComEd is working with After School Matters to develop a program to expose Chicago high school students to skills needed to work in the construction trades. The program will teach students about the math skills, electrical theory and use of tools needed to begin the journey to a career in construction.
"I want to thank ComEd for building this new training center in the Bridgeport neighborhood. It will bring jobs and economic benefits for our residents and also help our workers and students learn the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “This state-of-the-art training center illustrates ComEd’s commitment to helping our communities remain vibrant while also helping Chicago develop a world-class workforce to drive our economic growth far into the future.”
“CPS is committed to providing our students access to opportunities that will allow them to develop 21st century skills, and we are grateful to our partners at ComEd for recognizing the potential in our students with this commitment to the next generation of Chicago’s skilled workforce,” CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice Jackson said. “With these opportunities, CPS students will build not only the confidence, but the skills they need to succeed in college and career.”
The facility will also allow ComEd better flexibility in managing severe weather events.
“In addition to enabling us to train the next generation of utility workers and teach students more about electricity, this new state-of-art facility also will serve as a storm center to help us manage and coordinate resources during severe weather events,” said Terence R. Donnelly, Executive Vice-President and COO, ComEd.