Electric Cooperative Speeds Outage Response by Integrating GIS and Automated Meter Reading

Electric Cooperative Speeds Outage Response by Integrating GIS and Automated Meter Reading

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USA —Residents of Northern Idaho experienced a severe, debilitating windstorm last year that flattened the electric distribution system. Kootenai Electric, the member-owned electric cooperative based in Hayden, Idaho, was prepared for the outages. With a sturdy geographic information system (GIS) and automated meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system in place, the co-op was able to restore power to affected areas within a couple of days. Without this technology, the job would have taken two to three weeks.

Kootenai serves 22,000 homes around Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and grows by about 1,000 homes each year. Since the 1990s, Kootenai has used ESRI’s GIS technology to link its customer information in the billing system with the outage management system. The world leader in GIS technology, ESRI creates GIS tools that can be tailored specifically for the utility industry. In 2002, Kootenai integrated its GIS with a Terawatt Accumulator (TWAC) high-speed power line carrier automated meter reading and advanced metering infrastructure system.

Together with GIS, the TWAC AMR/AMI system allows single meters or groups of meters to be queried and checked in real time. The system then gives utility dispatchers accurate counts and locations of customers affected. The addition of AMR/AMI to its GIS has dramatically improved the utility’s response time to outages. Additionally, staff members at Kootenai are pleased with the system’s easy-to-use menu and large selection of output report formats.

“Integrating GIS with the AMR/AMI system gave us the ability to dispatch crews directly to problem spots or eliminate trips altogether,” said Keith Brooks, a GIS analyst with Kootenai. “The solution has been a substantial savings in money and time.”