Power cooperatives in USA utilise technology from ESRI

Power cooperatives in USA utilise technology from ESRI

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Redlands, California, USA, 5 March 2007 – Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., is implementing a powerful GIS platform based on ESRI’s ArcGIS software that will optimize how its electric distribution cooperatives monitor, manage, and grow their utility networks.

The enterprise GIS centralizes data management and provides a powerful, highly intuitive method for deploying spatial data and applications both internally at Rushmore Electric as well as externally to Rushmore Electric distribution cooperatives.

Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative is a wholesale purchaser of power for its members, which consist of eight electric distribution cooperatives in South Dakota, USA.

“We wanted to move to a true database-driven mapping environment that would also easily integrate with existing applications such as accounting, staking, engineering analysis, and outage management,” says Angie Blansett, GIS manager, Rushmore Electric. “We also wanted a cost-effective solution that was intuitive, enabling us to perform implementation, customization, and development services in-house.”

“Rushmore Electric is providing rich functionality and data to support a wide range of efforts,” said Michael Schlecht, Utilities Account Manager, ESRI. “They are supplying cooperatives with more efficient and improved data management and distribution services. The cooperatives can pass the benefits on to their customers in the form of better service. It’s an excellent example of using shared resources as a business strategy to better manage and improve utility service.”

Rushmore’s engineering services division provides many services to members, including SCADA implementation, system analysis, and system design, as well as mapping, which had historically been performed using CAD technology.

While previous methods worked well for managing graphic data, Rushmore Electric wanted a more effective solution for maintaining facilities and asset information. After visiting a digital mapping conference, senior-level mapping managers at Rushmore Electric began exploring how GIS could better centralize data previously maintained in disparate formats.

After an extensive evaluation process, Rushmore chose ESRI as its GIS platform. The company is currently implementing ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server. As part of the implementation, Rushmore will use advanced network analysis and visualization tools for editing and maintaining all types of facility, asset, land base, and distribution service data.

In addition, ESRI Web GIS and desktop solutions will be available to non-GIS professionals in customer service, accounting, and marketing as well as to workers in the field. For instance, work crews can access network data from their laptops while performing field inventory and staking tasks. This replaces manual methods with digital tools for faster, more efficient remote data capture and updates.Future applications for member cooperatives may include GIS integration with SCADA, outage management, and automated meter reading.

– Basin Electric Power Cooperative deploys ArcGIS Server
Basin Electric Power Cooperative now uses ESRI’s ArcGIS Server for an enterprise GIS environment that delivers business value and improves internal processes throughout the organization. The server-based solution maximizes GIS investments by providing open access to GIS capabilities via the Web. Basin Electric employees, without any previous GIS experience or training, can access powerful digital tools using a simple, easy-to-use interface.

Basin Electric, headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, is one of the largest electric generation and transmission cooperatives in the Unites States, generating and delivering electricity to 120 member cooperatives. These member systems then provide power and services to 2.5 million retail consumers located in nine states.

The ArcGIS Server implementation answered Basin Electric’s need to ensure that, as other companies added microwave radio systems within Basin Electric’s service territory, these systems would not cause radio frequency interference to any of Basin Electric’s existing radio sites. Basin Electric currently operates radio systems from more than 80 radio towers to provide data and voice communications for telephone circuits, SCADA, mobile radio, system protection, and more.

“The main goal is to allow employees to use the power of GIS with minimal training through user-defined Web applications,” said Jason Brekke, GIS/Mapping Specialist, Basin Electric Power Cooperative. “Anyone from a GIS specialist to an electrical engineer or an administrative assistant can complete projects using these applications. You do not need to know the ESRI GIS software to complete the task. Productivity is extremely higher.”

“Basin Electric recognized the opportunity to use ArcGIS Server to empower staff outside the GIS department with greater capabilities for enhanced problem solving and decision making,” said Mike Goggin, Account Manager, ESRI. “They cleared two hurdles: supplying timely information across the organization and freeing up GIS resources to focus on new business challenges.”

Patrick Engineering, an ESRI business partner, developed an application based on ArcGIS Server for Basin Electric and performed a user needs assessment, customized the application, and provided implementation services. In addition, Basin Electric used the ESRI Developer Network (EDN) to prototype and test the new application. EDN is an annual subscription-based program that provides software developers with the resources needed to build solutions that embed ESRI desktop and server technologies.

The delivered application allows a large group of simultaneous users to perform queries, access resulting data, and see whether there might be an interference problem with potential new microwave radio systems.

The success of the application was immediate. Engineers were able to quickly and easily perform their own analysis without submitting requests to outside departments and waiting for others to carry out the task. This gave them direct access to the data they needed and freed up GIS analysts to perform more technical, GIS-centric work for the organization.

The initial success of the radio transmission application led to the deployment of a second ArcGIS Server application, also developed by Patrick Engineering. Basin Electric maintains more than 200 remote facilities located throughout its territory. To meet regulatory guidelines, the company must maintain up-to-date routing and emergency information for each facility including routes to each facility, contact information, and nearest hospital.

Much of this information was maintained in hard-copy form including paper maps for each facility. Basin Electric migrated the previous paper-based information into ArcGIS Server to provide an automated method for better maintaining the data and for allowing easy information access to any employee throughout its nine-state service territory.

Facility maps and related data, now available throughout the organization, began to be used for other business purposes including procurement bids and land management. Basin Electric is now investigating possible future applications including using GIS to generate map books as well as developing a mobile asset maintenance application.