Ameren to build electric-training center
BELLEVILLE, Apr 04, 2012 (The Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Ameren Illinois says a planned, state-of-the-art electric training center will serve both a growing work force and a massive modernization program in coming years.
The company on Tuesday announced plans to build on the nearly 12-acre, former Fischer Lumber Co. site along Illinois Route 15 near Belleville.
"This new training center is a key component of our Modernization Action Plan. This initiative is allowing us to accelerate the modernizing of our electric distribution system over the next 10 years to meet the service expectations of our customers in the 21st century," said Michael Moehn, Ameren Illinois senior vice president of customer operations.
Company spokesman Leigh Morris said Ameren is expecting to spend an estimated $7 million in total on the Belleville location, as well as the expansion of another electric training facility in Decatur.
Ameren's actions will fulfill requirements of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, passed a few years ago.
"We were committed to spend a minimum of $1 million on new or expanded training centers, and we're going to do both," Morris said.
Ameren closed on the property this spring, and several criteria factored into the decision on location.
"The size of this property was ideal. It has an existing building that can be utilized. We will have it up and running much quicker than we could if we had a bare piece of land, or if we had land with buildings that would have to come down first," Morris said.
By locating the training center in Belleville, Ameren expects to benefit from a collaboration with nearby Southwestern Illinois College.
"This innovative partnership is helping prepare a well-educated, skilled workforce to serve the needs of customers now and in the future," Moehn said. "This partnership is helping provide area residents the opportunity to gain the credentials they'll need to compete for good jobs in our rapidly changing industry."
Ameren anticipates up to 100 people would be in training at a given time. Typical training sessions will last one week or more. Trainees would be spending money in the local economy at hotels, restaurants and the like, Morris said.
The project will involve the renovation of structures on the site, including the 15,000-square-foot main building. The training center will feature two state-of-the-art training rooms and a high bay for large equipment training. Electric service training will focus on:
- Line work training for those responsible for maintaining 46,000 miles of electric distribution lines.
- Smart grid training to support the advanced technology and automated equipment that will be deployed to improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric system.
- Electrical relay training to support the new advanced relay systems that will be a component in maintaining system reliability.
The training center will require at least five new positions. A number of Ameren Illinois workers also will relocate to the new training center, although the exact employees still are to be determined.
Work on the training center project is beginning this spring. It is expected the center will go into service late this year.
As a part of the requirements of the new law, Ameren Illinois will create more than 450 additional jobs in 2015, the peak year of the 10-year initiative. Job creation is beginning this year and will increase until the peak year is reached.
Along with jobs that will be created through the infrastructure modernization and improvement initiative, Ameren Illinois currently has openings for more than 200 full-time positions. Employment information is available at www.AmerenIllinois.com.
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