WPS, We Energies open Green Bay Training Center
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday, Aug. 2, to dedicate the Wisconsin Public Service and We Energies Green Bay Training Center at 2800 S. Ashland Ave.
WPS and We Energies President Kevin Fletcher said the 31,000-square-foot facility will provide hands-on opportunities for employees to be trained with the companies looking to hire in the future as they replace those workers who will be retiring.
“The Green Bay Training Center represents our dedication to working safely and to providing world-class customer service each day,” Fletcher said. “Building this facility will improve our employees’ ability to successfully perform their jobs, which benefits our customers and communities throughout Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”
Construction of the center began in June 2017 and was completed last month. It features both indoor and outdoor training areas, lab space and classrooms for both companies to learn current industry techniques and best practices, regardless of weather conditions.
Information provided by WPS and We Energies notes approximately 1,400 employees and contractors are expected to use the center each year for new and ongoing skills development exercises.
Behind the main building is a 14,000-square-foot outdoor training area known as Energy Estates, which includes four small buildings where natural gas and electric distribution workers will be able to practice skills such as natural gas pipe construction, leak investigation and electric facility maintenance.
The facility also features an 11,000-square-foot Electric Operations Training (EOT) Lab, an indoor area that includes utility poles, overhead wires, underground cables and meter bases. The EOT, which has a ceiling tall enough for a bucket truck to operate, also has a catwalk where training instructors will be able to observe and communicate with employees during overhead exercises.
The main building also includes three gas lab areas and four classrooms. Plans for the site also call for the installation of an outdoor utility pole area and excavation fields this fall.
Gini Roback, manager of work methods and development for WPS and We Energies, said the facility is a milestone for both companies.
“The Green Bay Training Center will greatly increase the training courses we can provide, helping to prepare our lineworkers and natural gas mechanics for a wide range of work conditions,” Roback said.
The Boldt Co. of Appleton constructed the center with approximately 150 workers involved in the building the facility.
When asked about the cost to construct the center, WPS spokesman Matt Cullen said the specific amount is not be disclosed, though he called the facility a “multi-million-dollar investment.”