Fort Leonard Wood is now the home of the Power Line Distribution Course, making the post's Prime Power School the Army's training institute for medium voltage power production and distribution.

A cable cutting ceremony Tuesday officially opened the four-acre training area surrounding the Prime Power School.

"The mission of electrical power production and distribution is a potentially dangerous one. It is of the utmost importance that our Soldiers be armed with all the skills required to conduct their mission to provide power line distribution in support of the Army and our nation's priorities in the safest manner possible and under some of the most challenging conditions imaginable," said Lt. Col. David Hibner, U.S. Army Prime Power School commandant.

Soldiers with the military occupational specialty of 12P-Prime Power Production Specialist and 12Q-Power Distribution Specialist, already come to Fort Leonard Wood's Prime Power School for their yearlong training.

Both MOSs fall under the 249th Engineer Battalion, which is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Starting this month, selected Soldiers will be able to get their lineman additional skill identifier of U4 by staying on Fort Leonard Wood an additional eight weeks.

The course is scheduled to train 24 noncommissioned officers per year, as there are normally three classes of eight students.

"The PLDC-U4 course provides the knowledge and skills necessary to safely install and maintain medium voltage electrical power distribution systems in support of contingency operations and humanitarian support missions worldwide," said Sgt. 1st Class Rustin "Nemo" Owen, Power Line Distribution Course.

By moving the Power Line Distribution Course from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, to Fort Leonard Wood, Owen said the power line distribution specialists -- with the additional skill identified of U4 -- can now finish their schooling in one place, saving valuable time and money.

"The savings for the Army is estimated to be up to $304,000 per year," Owen said.

According to Owen, another benefit of having the course on post is now the Army can control the course's curriculum and will be able to quickly adapt to changing requirements.

At the cable cutting ceremony, Hibner thanked several organizations for bringing the course to Fort Leonard Wood and one person in particular, Owen.

"There is one person who deserves credit above all others for making this course a reality. He is a noncommissioned officer whose vision of this course actually began many years ago and who was personally responsible for making it a reality today," Hinder said. "My sincere thanks and gratitude go out to Sgt. 1st Class "Nemo" Owen -- who's professionalism, tenacity, vision and organization skills were so instrumental in taking this course from a concept to a fully functional and credentialed military education institution."

Owen said the PLDC-U4 program is regionally accredited, and all graduates will meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration and industry standards. Graduates will be certified by the Southeast Lineman's Training Center.

Construction began on the new training area nine months ago and cost about $433,000 to complete.

Owen said the 94th Engineer Battalion, 249th Engineer Battalion and the Fort Leonard Wood Directorate of Public Works assisted with construction efforts.

To complete the new training area crews used approximately 3,749 tons of rock and soil, 1,600 feet of silt fence and 140 feet of culverts.