BERLIN - They say safety is a top priority and a recent investment can help ensure it.
Eversource, at 107 Seldon St., opened a $2.7 million, five-acre expanded training facility for electric line workers and natural gas technicians to practice addressing real life issues with real life conditions.
“It’s an investment in our safety first, and always, culture we have here at Eversource,” said Chairman, President and CEO Jim Judge. “This provides an opportunity to see, feel and touch the equipment in a controlled environment before they actually experience it out in the field.”
Divided into a natural gas and electricity training area, the gas side is designed as a residential neighborhood with houses, sidewalks, yards and paved streets.
Employees can simulate gas leak identification and repair, meter inspection, and line location and marking. They can also learn to troubleshoot gas regulators, deal with natural gas fires under a variety of weather conditions, and excavation methods that won’t harm equipment.
A network of pipes controls the flow of natural gas to targeted areas for testing in a variety of scenarios, with an emergency shutoff valve to prevent serious damage at any time.
The electric side consists of 84 utility poles – at 35-foot and 5- to 10-foot heights; seven high-voltage transformers mounted on poles or on ground-level foundations; 18 high-voltage switches that are pole mounted or foundation-mounted at ground level; 12 high-voltage pole top or foundation-mounted transformers.
Both overhead and underground conductors and equipment can be energized up to 14,000 volts and with low-voltage circuitry and equipment operating at 208 or 120 volts, allowing line workers to enhance skills such as pole climbing, working on energized and de-energized lines, pole-top lineman rescue, and transformer installation and troubleshooting.
The area also features indoor classrooms and a mobile electricity unit to further simulate real life hazards from use of aluminum ladders, free floating objects and accidental contact with human flesh.
“This new training facility, the features that it provides are going to ensure that our line workers and technicians are the best trained in the country,” said Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee, noting the timeliness of the open park with recent storms causing utility outages throughout Florida and the Caribbean.
“As we know that these source of storms are only going to become our new normal, more frequent due to a changing climate, I’m glad to see that we are taking all the steps we can to be better prepared and making sure that safe and reliable service is delivered day in and day out and in those days and weeks when nature throws the curveballs at us,” he added.
In attendance for the ribbon cutting were Newington Mayor Roy Zartarian, Town of Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge and Berlin Fire Marshal Steve Waznia. According to Waznia, Berlin firefighters have already used the facility and Newington emergency responders will be able to use it as well.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.