New training and storm center built with Gulf Power customers in mind

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 06:29 PM.

Built to withstand a lashing from hurricane-force winds, Gulf Power Company’s new Douglas L. McCrary Training and Storm Center is a hub to better manage major storms and keep the utility’s workforce highly trained.

When a hurricane or major storm threatens Northwest Florida, team leaders from every area of the company will gather at the new Storm Center to coordinate plans to restore power. But the building will primarily serve as a training center for Gulf Power’s line crews.

“Well-trained crews are more confident and capable of installing and maintaining equipment and restoring power to our customers quickly and safely,” said Natalie Smith, Gulf Power spokesperson. “And if a storm should threaten our area, it will transform into an emergency operations center — the nerve center where we orchestrate restoration operations. Our hope is that both of these efforts will help keep our customers happy and satisfied.”

The Training Center centralizes all Gulf Power line crews’ educational training from Pensacola to Panama City and replaces an outdated facility that previously served as a maintenance garage. The new facility has nine training rooms, a testing room and an e-learning center that gives new employees hands-on training and education, and helps seasoned employees keep current on new procedures, equipment and technology.

“As an electric utility, we are responsible for training our line crews to ensure they’re prepared to work safely,” Smith said. “Having proper educational facilities is a vital component to ensuring long-term reliability to our customers through a well-educated and trained workforce.”

The 30,300-square foot, LEED-certified building is located near the company’s Pine Forest office. It is built to withstand 200-mph winds and has a 700-kilowatt generator that can power the building for 7-10 days.

The building, which opened this month, was named after Douglas McCrary, Gulf Power’s 11th president.



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