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Spring 2006
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Electric Utilities Turn to Esri for GIS Solutions

With the growing complexity of monitoring and managing electric utility networks and related assets, companies have increasingly turned to GIS as a fundamental component of IT infrastructure. They recognize its capability to integrate with and enhance the capabilities of existing systems, as well as initiate new spatially oriented applications and procedures.

Bermuda Uses GIS for Posthurricane Electrical Restoration

The islands of Bermuda are located at the top of the North Atlantic's tropical cyclone basin. From June through November, tropical storms can grow into hurricanes that threaten the islands. Geologists have found 1,000-year-old evidence of hurricanes in the region, and activity has been recorded for the past 100 years. Even though satellite imagery, advanced weather science, and the Internet are available to modern Bermuda, Mother Nature still reigns as queen.

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Showing BELCO GIS and data for Bermuda.

Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) is Bermuda's sole supplier of electricity, operating a generating plant and transmission and distribution systems throughout the islands. Its mission is to meet the energy requirements of the people and businesses of Bermuda (approximately 32,000 customers) economically, safely, and reliably.

BELCO is a longtime user of Esri ArcGIS software and recently implemented the ArcFM Solution. These solutions were chosen for several key reasons. First, BELCO wanted to reduce the amount of redundant data entry by storing as much data in a single database repository as possible. Second, the utility wanted to have a more accurate representation of its facilities, including its secondary network, and finally, there was a need to maintain the customer and facility data that resided in its outage management system (OMS).

In 2003, Hurricane Fabian hit Bermuda with sustained winds of 120 mph. The island's weather station recorded wind gusts up to 164 mph before the wind gauge was blown apart. The hurricane battered the island for eight hours and cut power to 25,000 customers, and approximately half the 150 mainline circuits were lost. Following the ensuing three weeks it took for BELCO to completely restore power, staff members realized the benefits that GIS, computer information systems, and OMS could bring to their organization during the restoration efforts.

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A basic report of damage for a specific substation and feeder.

As a result of Hurricane Fabian, BELCO contracted with OneGIS, Inc., an Esri Business Partner, to design and build a GIS-based damage assessment tool, which is now known as the Incident Survey Tool. The Incident Survey Tool provides a solution for data maintenance, editing, and reporting that fits into the high-pressure business tasks that occur during and after a hurricane or other natural disaster, as well as normal everyday occurrences. It is designed to allow the end users to collect and maintain damaged pole information that is then loaded into a single database environment from which crews can be dispatched and assigned to repair the damage. The tool will also ensure that all work is tracked until completion. In addition, reports can be generated on damage to a particular circuit or specific damage types, such as downed or leaning poles. This is used to help management decide how best to mobilize the teams of people and to prioritize the work once the initial restoration activities have been completed.

In preparation for the 2006 hurricane season, which meteorologists are predicting to be the fiercest on record, BELCO is implementing Esri Business Partner Miner and Miner's ArcFM Viewer Redline extension, which will allow the crews to make notes in the GIS at the same time they are collecting the pole damage information. In addition, a refresher training course will be conducted in May in anticipation of storms that are sure to pass by the island this year.

Fortunately, Bermuda weathered last year's hurricane season without a major incident. BELCO hopes to eventually create a public access Web site where it will be able to provide the public with information about outages, restoration efforts, and more.

For more information, contact Bud Porter, OneGIS, Inc. (e-mail: bud.porter@onegis.net, tel.: 770-420-9404, Web: www.onegis.net).

Philippines to Implement GIS-Based Assets Management System

Geodata Systems Technologies, Inc. (GSTI), Esri's distributor in the Republic of the Philippines, recently won a contract worth more than $600,000 to implement a GIS-based assets management system for Districts 1 and 2 of the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO). TRANSCO is responsible for electrical transmission for the country's National Power Corporation.

Philippines' energy secretary Raphael P. M. Lotilla says, "The adoption of GIS technology by TRANSCO is significant in that it not only marks the anniversary of the signing of the 2001 Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) but will also greatly help in achieving the policies set forth by the government in enacting and implementing EPIRA."

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ASTER satellite data showing TRANSCO's area of interest.

Dr. Alan T. Ortiz, TRANSCO CEO and president, adds that the project would provide digitized mapping for all of the corporation's energy assets. "We presently do not have this kind of mapping in the Philippines," says Ortiz. "If we are going to be a truly world-class transmission company, this GIS system must be in place."

According to Francisca Nasol-Dayrit, GSTI executive vice president, "The TRANSCO GIS project will be powered by Esri's family of GIS software, ArcGIS 9." The software suite includes ArcInfo, ArcView, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS 3D Analyst, ArcGIS Spatial Analyst, ArcGIS Schematics, ArcGIS Data Interoperability, ArcSDE, ArcPad, and ArcPad Application Builder, as well as the Leica Photogrammetry Suite.

TRANSCO will also implement the Transmission Asset Management Information System (TAMIS) application from POWER Engineers (an Esri Business Partner), which is based on ArcGIS with Oracle 10g as the DBMS. With TAMIS, TRANSCO staff will be able to display, query, and analyze digital maps for such things as the best route to a facility, obstacles along a transmission route, landownership where transmission lines pass, topography, aerial imagery, fault locator, and so on.

In addition to the GIS components, GSTI and F.F. Cruz & Co. will also develop and deliver several sets of digital maps to TRANSCO. Included in one set are various aerial photos and satellite images. Another set will include TRANSCO's various assets, such as offices, warehouses, substations, communication relay stations, transmission lines, towers, control centers, communication facilities, and fiber-optic cables. Several thematic maps of various scales, such as administrative boundaries, public infrastructure, road networks, river and water bodies, vegetation cover, land use, land classification, soils and geology, protected areas and indigenous peoples sites, hazard areas, and some demographic data, will also be provided.

For more information, contact Maria Dayrit, GSTI (e-mail: dayritmaria@yahoo.com).

Lebanon Reduces Energy Losses Using GIS

Electricité Du Liban (EDL), the state-run Lebanese electric utility, generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to more than one million customers throughout the country. With the support of consulting engineering firm Khatib & Alami (K&A), the Esri distributor in Lebanon, it has successfully implemented its GIS system based on Esri technology to model and manage its electrical system infrastructure in municipal Beirut—the Geographic Information Systems Electricity of Lebanon (GISEL) project.

Launched in 1993, the GISEL project has assisted in conquering recent challenges EDL has faced. The main challenge is reducing network losses (technical and nontechnical) caused by chaotic network developments and illegal power tapping. This is being done by tracking the flow of energy from the transmission level (primary substations) to the distribution level (customers).

To reduce the high level of nontechnical losses to acceptable standards, the EDL and K&A teams developed the GIS Collection Management (CM) application. This application provides Energy Correlation (EC) studies relying on installed meter readings at different levels of the network and offers radial power flow calculations. The CM application was originally based on ArcView 3.2 and was recently migrated to ArcGIS 9.1 Desktop. The EC studies consist of two levels: the primary feeders versus distribution transformers and the distribution transformers versus end customers.

The EC analysis between primary feeders and distribution transformers highlights the distribution transformers that should be inspected, while the EC studies between the distribution transformers and the end customers carefully compare the billed kilowatt-hour (kWh) usage to the actual usage to detect the nontechnical losses on the low-voltage network. After pinpointing the network vicinities with soaring nontechnical losses, violation removal teams are dispatched, armed with maps and historical kWh consumption reports produced by the CM application. They disable illegitimate network connections and take appropriate action against violators. Moreover, the EDL and K&A teams keep an eye on transformers with high losses by remonitoring EC studies in sequence, looking for persistent illegal network tapping.

Reducing technical losses relies on the operation of the in-house Electric GIS Facility Siting (FS) application. Based on EDL power distribution rules and the customer's database, the FS application—developed using MapObjects 2.1 (recently migrated to ArcGIS 9.1)—assists EDL's house connection department in making decisions about connecting new buildings to the electric distribution grid or in reinforcing an existing connection.

In the case of a new connection, for instance, after locating the building site, the application prompts the user to enter the required new load, its type, utilization factor, and a buffer distance for the application to search for a power source. After submittal, the application runs a load flow module to calculate the voltage drop on the existing network. At the end, the application presents the actual state of the affected electric network and its devices, such as transformer characteristics and the affected cables' specifications. It presents scenarios of the anticipated electric state after executing the customer demand for the user to choose from, and it will indicate nonconformity in some cases. Finally, the user selects the ideal choice and draws a sketch of the projected cable route.

The application provides the network planner with a report that includes a map of the site and its network, along with all calculated electric factors, such as voltage drop, cable capacity (amps), type and number of cables, and diversity factor of the transformer before and after hookup of the demand load to the network.

The FS application consists of additional key features, such as presenting solutions for issues related to the low-voltage network planning (e.g., optimum line configuration), to eradicate excessive voltage drop. The application offers recommendations to reroute power lines to buildings from one network to another, replace some networks with higher cross sections to suit the required load, or change the type of some network lines to minimize the voltage drop.

To complement and leverage its GIS investment, EDL is preparing to implement a phased Automatic Meter Reading project with full integration with the GIS. Such integration will provide broad control over the distribution network activities and attain online monitoring of energy losses.

The GIS program at EDL is a central part of the utility information technology and plays a critical role in its daily business. By integrating GIS into other systems, such as the customer relationship management system and the outage hotline system, EDL is able to leverage GIS datasets to support operational activities and provide substantial strides in service reliability and level of customer service.

For more information, contact Safaa Issa, Khatib & Alami (e-mail: sissa@kacec.com).

Philippines Implements GIS Solution for Electrical Co-op

Geodata Systems Technologies, Inc., Esri's distributor in the Philippines, has implemented a GIS at the Tarlac I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (TARELCO I), located in the Municipality of Tarlac on the island of Luzon.

TARELCO I provides electric services to 13 municipalities in Tarlac province, two municipalities of Nueva Ecija province, five barangays of Tarlac City, and several barangays of Guimba municipality in Nueva Ecija province.

Comments engineer Resurreccion R. Coronel, TARELCO's general manager, "TARELCO I is being assisted by GSTI in automating our assets and facilities using GIS technology until such time that TARELCO personnel can manage our GIS project."

Under the contract, GSTI will provide Esri GIS software, including ArcView 9 and ArcPad; computer hardware; digital maps covering the service area of TARELCO I; GIS training for TARELCO personnel; technical services; and project management and supervision.

Coronel continues, "Using GIS technology to automate TARELCO's assets and facilities will provide our field-workers and other employees with spatial data access for solving all types of problems, from facility replacement to service requests to property management, and more. This kind of spatial data access will change how TARELCO does business and will help us better serve our customers, maintain optimum service reliability and safety, and ultimately operate in a more cost-effective manner."

GIS technology will enable TARELCO to build a comprehensive automated database of equipment, poles, and distribution lines, as well as its consumers/co-op members. With the system, TARELCO will be able to keep track of the location and condition of all facilities, devices, and structures. It will also help meet the informational requirements mandated by government regulatory agencies, including the National Electrification Administration and the National Transmission Corporation.

Coronel adds, "With GIS technology, we can easily use our facility and land base information in managing outages, as well as the maintenance of our distribution system such as line patrol inspections, system planning, customer transformation locations, customer service requests, and more. In short, we will be able to do things that simply have not been done before to benefit our clients."

Similarly, Francisco A. Diza, TARELCO board president, says, "GIS technology will greatly assist TARELCO in the effective and efficient management of the electric distribution system for the benefit and welfare of the more than 104,000 customers in Tarlac and Nueva Ecija provinces. Aside from improving our service and management, we expect a marked improvement in our bottom line due to better fiscal management; an increase in efficiency and accuracy; and better support in our decision making, budgeting, and the automation of our workflow processes."

For more information, contact Francisca Dayrit GSTI (e-mail: fndayrit@geodata.com.ph).

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