One of the largest U.S. utility companies has opened a new safety training facility. San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) opened its new Gas Safety Academy on Sept. 27, in Winters, California. It is the third in a series of gas safety facilities that the company has opened since 2013.
PG&E’s Gas Safety Academy will serve as the primary training center for employees learning to operate and maintain every aspect of the company’s natural gas infrastructure. It features the latest training technologies, including heavy equipment simulators, virtual learning resources, a model-neighborhood for emergency response and leak detection practices, as well as educational programs on industry-leading safety protocols.
The Academy took shape after five years of research, benchmarking, design and construction, in addition to significant investment of time and resources. Prior to the facility’s grand opening, PG&E’s Gas Control Center launched in fall 2013 as the company’s air traffic control for the gas system, and the company’s Center for Gas Safety and Innovation was unveiled this summer.
“This premier training institution wouldn’t be possible without incredible partnership from the IBEW, the many companies we benchmarked with and the support from the City of Winters,” said Nick Stavropoulos, president and Chief Operating Officer of PG&E. “This state-of-the-art, 30-acre site demonstrates our vision for the future and our unwavering safety commitment to our workforce and the millions of customers we serve.”
Each week, the Academy will host approximately 150 gas employees and will provide nearly 36,000 hours of training each year.
“The new Gas Safety Academy is a wonderful new addition to the growing Winters community,” said Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, representing the 4th California Assembly District, including the City of Winters. “I am confident that it will help shape the future of Yolo County for many years to come.”
The Academy will offer a wide range of curriculum and field training for gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding, pressure control, customer service, gas appliance operation, excavation and education on safety standards and protocols.
“The experts who operate and maintain PG&E’s gas system play a critical role to keep customers safe and gas service reliable,” said Tom Dalzell, Business Manager, IBEW Local 1245. “This facility will be a significant resource for our members and we’re pleased by the investment PG&E made to employee training.”
Fast facts about the Gas Safety Academy:
- Three main buildings on the 30-acre site total 96,000 square feet.
- A “model neighborhood” of 15 small homes creates near-real-life conditions for emergency response and leak detection training.
- A state of the art lab allows trainees to gain hands-on experience in regulating and monitoring the pressure and flow of natural gas.
- The welding lab accommodates apprentice welders for two weeks of formal training during each year of their three-year apprenticeship.
- A simulation room will allow trainees to gain near-real-life experience on trucks and excavation machinery used in the field.
“Safety is at the center of this partnership with PG&E and our city couldn’t be more proud to welcome its gas workforce into our home,” said Winters Mayor Wade Cowan. “We all benefit by this investment in each other. Our local economy grows as PG&E innovates the way it trains the gas workforce of the future.”