MARSHALL, Mich., Sept. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Consumers Energy Foundation is assisting two men training to become utility line workers as the first recipients of a scholarship honoring an employee killed on the job more than four years ago.
Jeffrey H. Creel, a Consumers Energy electric line worker from Bronson, was struck and killed June 22, 2012 by a passing vehicle while he investigated a downed power line near Jonesville. His death has resulted in an increased effort by his friends, family, Consumers Energy and other utility companies to educate the driving public about roadside worker safety, emphasizing the phrase "slow down and go around."
Today's announcement serves as an important reminder of safe driving for the upcoming Labor Day Weekend, when more than 1 million drivers are expected to take to the state's highways, said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations.
"It's imperative the next generation of lineworkers understands safety is our highest priority," Packard said at today's event at the company's Marshall Training Center. "Nothing is more important than sending our employees home safely each day, and protecting the public from harm. We are honored to award these scholarships in Jeff's memory."
Packard thanked Robin Creel, Jeffrey Creel's widow, for her participation in today's ceremony and for her continued support.
"Jeff worked with a lot of good people, and I pray for their safety every day," Robin Creel said. "I'm pleased this scholarship program will train future line workers to continue the important work done across Michigan."
The scholarship program, first announced in June 2015, is in conjunction with Lansing Community College (LCC), Alpena Community College (ACC), the Michigan State Utility Workers Council and Consumers Energy. The first recipients are Nick Lawless of LCC and Brock LaVergne of ACC.
Students must be actively enrolled and in good academic standing in the Utility Line Worker Program at LCC or the ACC Utility Technology Program. Candidates must have successfully completed all requirements and be selected for enrollment into the 10-week courses delivered at Consumers Energy's training facility in Marshall. Details of the coursework, schedule and application process are available on the LCC and ACC websites. Annually, each college will select one recipient, who will receive a onetime $2,500 payment toward their educational expenses. Both Lawless and LaVergne are completing their training in Marshall.
As with other industries, Consumers Energy has a veteran workforce and attracting individuals to learn a skilled trade is very important.
"This scholarship provides an opportunity for qualified individuals to learn this essential trade, and we're pleased that Jeff's name and Consumers Energy are associated with it," said Pat Dillon, president of the Michigan State Utility Workers Council.
Consumers Energy's continued focus on roadside safety comes as the National Highway Traffic Administration reports an increase in traffic fatalities in Michigan and across the United States. Fatal accidents in the state increased 6.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, or 267 deaths compared to 212 deaths the previous year.
The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy. It provides funding for a variety of areas including education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment and emerging issues.
Michigan nonprofit organizations received more than $6.5 million in contributions in 2015 from Consumers Energy, its employees, retirees, its foundation and parent company CMS Energy.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
LEARN MORE: Scholarship details, including how to apply, are available at: Lansing Community College http://www.lcc.edu/utility/lineworker/Files/Utility_Lineworker_Program_Information_2014-08-04.pdf or Alpena Community College http://discover.alpenacc.edu/utility_technology.php
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SOURCE Consumers Energy