Groundbreaking planned for PG and E training center in Winters

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A groundbreaking and celebration are planned Monday, Nov. 2, for a new PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Center in Winters. Community members are invited to watch the traditional ceremonial shovels digging into the dirt near the southeast corner of Interstate 505 and East Grant Avenue.

Festivities begin at 11 a.m. and will continue until 1 p.m.

The 29.6-acre training center will be built on 55.2 acres and is expected to draw as many as 300 trainees each week, who will learn about various aspects of gas pipeline safety. The center includes a classroom, parking, greenbelts and open-space training areas. PG&E officials have been working with the city of Winters since 2013 to make the project a reality.

“The groundbreaking represents the culmination of almost 30 months of work for the city and PG&E teams,” said Winters City Manager John Donlevy. “We are excited about the project and the many associated economic benefits it will bring to the Winters economy.”

He noted that more than 30 community meetings, workshops and hearings were held to allow community members plenty of opportunity to offer input, and described the full-scope EIR for the project as “comprehensive.”

“The scrutiny of the facility was considerable,” Donlevy said. “Not since the 1992 General Plan has the city done as significant an analysis. The City Council and Planning Commission, along with numerous community members, worked extremely hard and should be commended for their efforts. They certainly went above and beyond the call of duty.”

Donlevy expressed particular pride for city staff, who he said did an “exemplary job in balancing the wants and needs of PG&E and the long-term interests of the Winters community.”

“The result is a genuine ‘win-win’ for both sides,” he added.

Donlevy also offered praise for PG&E representatives: “The PG&E team was exceptional. They are a complex organization, but bring a long-term vision that will benefit our state immensely.”

Of course, Winters will reap some obvious rewards from having a state-of-the-art, world-class training center located there.

“Winters will benefit from a visionary project,” Donlevy said. “The vocational training for gas utility workers will be among the best in the world and the fact that we will be the home base is important. Workers and trainers from all over California and the nation will come to this facility with the goal of increasing worker and utility safety.”

He added that the local business community is also expected to benefit from the influx of weekly visitors, as well as PG&E personnel. Donlevy predicted that the training center will be “a catalyst for other economic development to come.” He also hinted of further business opportunities near the training center.

“The remaining land around this facility will be extremely valuable and the potential for other industry to locate here will be attractive,” the city manager said. “We look forward to other projects coming forward in the near future to complement this facility.”

But before all these things can come to pass, the first shovels must be thrust into the dirt on Nov. 2.

Those who do not wish to drive or walk to the groundbreaking can catch a shuttle bus at Rotary Park, which will be taking people to the site all morning until 10:45 a.m. At the site, a short walk will be required to reach the groundbreaking, including some non-paved areas, so comfortable walking shoes are advised.

Those who need special assistance are asked to contact Laura Gonzalez at lgonzalez@icgworldwide.com.

A community celebration will immediately follow the groundbreaking.

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