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Summer 2002
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Amazon Utility Boa Vista Energia S.A. Implements GIS Solutions

  click to see enlargement
This shows a connection between the graphic database and the customer database, making the localization of customers easy. The image shows that Boa Vista is drawn in the format of an array.

Boa Vista Energia S.A., a subsidiary of Centrais ElÚtricas do Norte do Brasil-ELETRONORTE, is a Brazilian electric utility with a service territory of 3,550 square miles that generates, transmits, distributes, and markets electricity for approximately 53,030 customers. Service is provided by three substations through more than 870 miles of overhead distribution lines. The utility generates electricity for the municipal district of Boa Vista and neighboring municipal districts.

The municipal district of Boa Vista, Boa Vista Energia's service territory, is the capital of Roraima, the country's northernmost state. From the north, Brazil begins in Boa Vista, where the Amazon Forest opens up into savannas. It is a modern, urbanized city, and a relatively young one as these things are judged in Brazil--just 111 years old! The ancient and the modern merge in Boa Vista, which is situated on the banks of the Branco River and configured in the format of an array.

Project History

In 1992, ELETRONORTE began a graphical computing project at Manaus, a city in the State of Amazonas, with the goal of developing computing processes using GIS technology to manage the area's electric energy distribution lines. The intent was to create a visual representation of distribution line performance and high-quality simulations for specific areas, facilitating the planning and performance of expanding projects.

electric substation
Service is provided from three thermoelectric units and three substations via more than 870 miles of overhead distribution lines.
 

The project was conceived as an evolution of the existing distribution line management and planning computing system, integrating project reliability studies. The prototype applications for the project were developed in 1994 and introduced in 1995. Simulation systems for primary and secondary lines were developed between 1996 and 1997 based on ArcInfo software on the UNIX platform. Because of its size, the implementation of the project was divided into systems and subsystems, and these into modules to permit a gradual implementation.

Over and beyond the study of distribution line behavior, ArcInfo was chosen to vectorize data, maintain an up-to-date customer registration, and analyze network continuity. Basic functions of capture, conversion, editing, storing, manipulation, analysis, consultation, and exposition/plotting of spatial data and attributes were developed as well as the creation of a linking topology. The ARC Macro Language (AML) was used to develop applications in ArcInfo, and FORTRAN was used for the electric calculations.

In July 1996, ELETRONORTE presented a proposal to the municipal district of Boa Vista for the implementation of its graphical computing project. At that time, little up-to-date information existed concerning the area's basic urban mapping or distribution line equipment, whether on paper or any other media.

In February 1997, ELETRONORTE began to implement the project--now named Management Graphical System for Distribution Lines (the acronym in Portuguese being SIGREDIS)--by establishing an agreement with the 4th Department of Topographical Survey, which is controlled by the Brazilian Ministry of Army. The goal of SIGREDIS was to execute topographical surveys in the municipal district of Boa Vista and to survey the count and geographic location of the power poles.

  click to see enlargement
Visual Screen Presentation showing the possibility of making operations and simulations in the distribution lines.

This version of SIGREDIS was developed with the goal of abandoning manual tools and adopting the newest computer-aided design (CAD), GIS, and GPS technologies. It was hoped that a successful implementation would allow the utility to jump right from maps drawn on polyester film to CAD and GPS, then to GIS.

Indeed, map registration on polyester film was abandoned very quickly, and the time required to survey the power poles was reduced about 80 percent because the job was now done using GPS technology. This had the additional effect of reducing the size of the survey team (today there is only one person required).

In June 1998, Boa Vista Energia S.A. extended the agreement with the Brazilian Ministry of Army to continue the surveys, now focusing on distribution line equipment and customer registration.

During these surveys, the utility set up a staff of qualified people to analyze and convert data as well as to create and perform up-to-date registrations. Geographic points were now efficiently surveyed in the field, all the distribution lines were drawn using ArcView, and the respective attribute data information was registered. This provided the availability of faster up-to-date maps, the creation of new projects, and the correct registration of each customer. The registration team was reduced and today comprises four people.

Due to the utility's technical and financial situation as well as its location, this staff was provided through an agreement with the Federal Technician School of Roraima (ETFRR). The procedures that were implemented had been developed by Boa Vista Energia's technicians supported by an electrotechnician engineer/systems analyst from ELETRONORTE.

SIGREDIS Implementation

The current system integrates CAD, GIS, and GPS technologies with processing on Windows NT. Its main goal is registration management and the determination of the area's electrical requirements based on calculations derived from distribution lines behavior and other technical criteria, thereby promoting greater distribution line management reliability.

staff photo
A staff made up of young technicians who work with geoprocessing in Amazon region.
 

To accommodate the growing demand for information required by its various departments, the utility uses ArcView, which provides the necessary speed for processing and consulting the data stored in the system. Some advantages of ArcView are its ease of customization; its ability to create fast data visualization; and its query, analysis, integration, and CAD reading tools.

The development and support team of only two people applies user feedback to accommodate what the user needs.

Today, SIGREDIS allows the utility to calculate technical and nontechnical losses, discover frauds, and simulate network performance analysis in just a few minutes.

SIGREDIS has been implemented in part, and the project is 70 percent finished. Once completed, Boa Vista Energia will maintain the system, developing methods and solutions based on the integration of CAD, GIS, and GPS, all the while being conscious of its mission to provide the most and best energy available.

For more information, visit www.eln.gov.br and www.eln.gov.br/home29.htm or contact Hirochi Mizokami, project engineer for Boa Vista Energia S.A. (e-mail: hirochi@eln.gov.br); OrnÚlio Hinterholz, Jr. (e-mail: ornelio@eln.gov.br); Sidney M. da Costa (e-mail: sidneycosta@eln.gov.br); Vancleumar S. Carvalho (e-mail: vancleumar@eln.gov.br); or Irisleide M. Braga (e-mail: irisleide@eln.gov.br).

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