ArcWatch: Your e-Magazine for GIS News, Views, and Insights

November 2007

Basin Electric Power Cooperative Deploys ArcGIS Server to Improve Processes and Deliver Business Value

By Jesse Theodore, Esri Staff Writer

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 via 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 United 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," says 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," says 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. Learn more about ArcGIS Server products at

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