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Eléctricité de Zahle Plugs in Its GIS

In late 1999, Lebanese-based Eléctricité de Zahle (EDZ) commissioned Khatib & Alami (K&A), Esri's Lebanese distributor, to implement its AM/FM/GIS. The primary goal of the project was to quickly modernize and automate the core Business processes of EDZ by utilizing GIS and complementary technologies.

The GIS is based on ArcInfo and a suite of related software products including DistOps, developed by Miner & Miner, an Esri Business Partner. The major part of the project was completed in just four months, which provided a major challenge for the EDZ and K&A teams.

Completing the project in four months was a self-imposed goal established so that the necessary field survey could be conducted during the summer season and crews could benefit from the favorable weather conditions at that time. It also allowed student interns to participate in this essential work. In addition, it was important to EDZ to complete batch data entry and follow up its new network modifications in as short a period of time as possible.

The EDZ service area is in the Beqaa Valley and covers about 230 square km. It extends over 21 cadastral areas and includes 17 municipalities, serving about 34,000 customers. Like most rural areas, the distribution system is primarily serviced by overhead lines.

The GIS includes five priority applications that meet the immediate Business needs of EDZ.

The Ad Hoc application is composed of a number of different modules that automate the collection of some of the frequently required statistical information needed for managerial and technical purposes. Basic functions address electrical consumption and record mismatches between spatial and tabular entities. Some of the primary functions performed by the application include general statistics, municipality statistics, mismatch between spatial and tabular entities, types of consumption, customer location, and service connection statistics.

The Collection Management application monitors energy flow at the distribution level by comparing consumption at different checkpoints. It allows the utility to calculate technical and nontechnical losses based on installed meters' readings at different levels of the network and radial power flow calculations. Moreover, the application enables the user to study consumption variations and to produce a set of indices and charts. The application interfaces with EDZ's existing Customer Information System and Billing Information System and provides an Arab language interface to display customers' names in Arabic.

The Map Product application replaced manual methods for standard map production. It also allows the user to produce high-quality color plots in standard paper sizes (A0, A3, A4) for either standard map scales (1:500, 1:1,000, 1:2,000, 1:5,000) or scale-independent plots.

The Map Editor application goes beyond simple editing and drawing capabilities. It includes a broad set of network-related modules that help preserve electrical consistency, enhance batch processing, and automate some reoccurring tasks.

Even though the customer and billing information systems are not directly linked to the other applications, every customer of EDZ is identified by a unique value or tag generated by the Map Editor application. The unique identifiers are used by the Customer Services team to maintain a globally interrelated system.

DistOps is a load flow application developed by Miner & Miner that is ArcInfo-based. It is used for analyzing utility distribution maneuvers in planning and operation modes. A Distribution Load Flow (DLF) module was specifically written to extend the analytical capabilities of the application to the low-voltage side of the network and to prepare input files for the Collection Management application.

Customer Service readily adopted the technology, allowing the department to produce customer site maps more easily and quickly.

Assaad Nakad, director general at EDZ, indicates that before implementing the GIS at the Electricity of Zahle (GISEZ) project. "We were heavily dependent on manual drawing. Basing our technical studies on this information was very time consuming and often the results were not as precise as we would have liked. Additionally, there was little interaction between departments, and we had limited control over our network operation and equipment."

The GISEZ project has caused a significant change in EDZ's daily operation and management style. It is enabling EDZ to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, which are driven by automation, information, and communication technologies, with consistency and flexibility.

For more information, please contact Fawzi Kabbara (e-mail: fkabbara@gis.kacec.com.lb).

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