21 Aug Member Spotlight – KMU
Attendees at the August 17th Chamber Connection learned about Kansas Municipal Utilities (KMU) and had the opportunity to tour some of its state-of-the-art training facility. Executive Director Brad Mears explained that in recognition of the loss of employees in the municipal field, the KMU board of directors decided to build the training facility several years ago to prepare a workforce for those jobs.
The 35-acre training complex provides classroom and hands-on, real-life training scenarios for the next generation of utility professionals including electric lineworkers, water and gas operators, and other municipal utility employees. The facility hosts 950 classes and over 90 workshops annually, bringing 4,000-5,000 people through the facility and to McPherson each year, creating a positive economic ripple effect.
Chamber members enjoyed a tour of the 8,000 square foot garage where utility poles were sunk into the floor for indoor training operations. They also toured the sleek, modern office and gathering spaces. The KMU training field simulates a real-world neighborhood training environment where workshop participants can experience a true-to-life city street simulation. This simulated residential street includes all services to mock homes (overhead and underground electric, meters, water, wastewater, streetlights, etc.). A significant portion of the complex is devoted to electrical and lineworker training, and a new part of the field is dedicated to heavy equipment qualification and certification.
KMU is the statewide association representing communities involved in the ownership and operation of municipal utilities like water, electricity, and gas. Formed in 1928, KMU provides assistance, information, and support to members regarding legislative and regulatory issues, training, and other educational programs. There are 200 member cities.
KMU’s founding purpose was to be a strong advocate and unified voice for municipal utilities before the Kansas Legislature, U.S. Congress, and other regulatory bodies. Those lobbying actions continue today. In addition, KMU is one of the primary coordinators for the Kansas Mutual Aid Program for Utilities (KSMAP). KSMAP provides an organized structure for restoring municipal services after small or large-scale disasters or emergencies.