Why the Award-Winning Escalante Generating Station Calls Gallup Home
Thursday, December 20, 2018
The Escalante Generating Station is an asset to the greater Gallup area and all rural New Mexico. This coal-fired power station provides power for the majority of rural New Mexico, powering up to 225,000 homes, businesses and ranches each year. Their highly-skilled employees ensure that the plant runs continuously and provides a steady flow of electricity. The skilled labor found in the Gallup region, combined with their aggressive internal training program, has made it possible for the Escalante Generating Station to remain strong, in spite of economic and political shifts.
Award-Winning Power Station
The generating station’s culture is one of employee and environmental safety. They have won two awards from the EPA and are one of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) participants. This is a great honor that is difficult to earn and even more difficult to keep. VPP recognizes employers and workers who have implemented effective Safety and Health management systems and maintained injury and illness rates below National Bureau of Labor Statics averages for their industry. It means that the Escalante Generating Station is doing a great job of regulating themselves. This is something that plant manager, Donald Russell is incredibly proud of, stating, “We are going above and beyond what is required by law, doing more than just the minimum. As VPP we have the opportunity to team with OSHA and visit other companies. This allows us to share information about our process, experience and the benefits of participating in the VPP program. We become an example, a mentor. We have been a VPP since 2009 and have very few workplace incidents and injuries because we take safety very seriously. That is our company culture and it is something our Board is very supportive of.”
Escalante’s Training Program is Top-Rate and High-Tech
Most people graduating from high school or college do not realize how high-tech the industrial world has gotten. Though Escalante’s employees are still working in an industrial environment, the operation of the station has grown increasingly high-tech. Take, for example, their modernized training program. They have a high-fidelity simulator that is being used to train operators. This training simulator allows operators to encounter all types of situations in a simulated setting. Instead of being trained on actual equipment, where a mistake could have real-world implications, or being trained in a generic simulator, this training simulator is high-fidelity, meaning that every button, every lever is exactly the same as it is at the Escalante Generating Station. The operator is essentially placed in a virtual world that looks the exact same as the real one. They must complete regular simulations and pass their training, which can take 5 to 7 years, before becoming a Control Room Operator. This device is so high-tech that it cost the company over $1 million to create. It is working incredibly well and will help future operators to further prevent accidents and environmental hazards.
Escalante’s training program is modern and high-tech, while also allowing for upward mobility. It is possible for high school graduates to be hired by the company, participate in various internal training programs and move up within the company. Their training programs are intense, but the pay is good and so are the benefits. Perhaps this is why so many have chosen to build their careers at Escalante.
Why Gallup is a Good Fit for the Escalante Generating Station and their Employees
As a business, the Escalante Generating Station has thrived in the Gallup region. Since the generating station was first built in 1982, Donald Russell has watched the company grow and thrive, something that a local skilled workforce has made possible. The workforce is still strong, allowing the company to hire the right workers as they need them.
Gallup’s location was also important from a national perspective since the company had to find the correct location to feed into the power grid. The site has rail access and they can pull water from wells onsite and offsite to operate the station.
From an employee perspective, people like Donald Russell cannot imagine living anywhere else. When asked what he enjoyed about the Gallup area he said, “For me personally, I have never envisioned living anywhere other than a rural area. I would never work in the city. The open spaces, mountains, wildlife, snow and cross-country skiing here is amazing. Plus, you are only 138-miles from Albuquerque, so you can easily go to a ball game, watch the opera or go to a nice dinner and since we are on the interstate, you get there very fast. In Gallup, you have everything you need, the benefit of open spaces and natural beauty, while having easy access to more entertainment in the big city. For me, it is utopia – the perfect place to live.”
Discover Gallup for Yourself
We invite business owners, executives, site selectors and workers to come discover Gallup and experience why the Escalante Generating Station and people like Donald Russell have chosen to call the Gallup area home.