ArcNews Online

Winter 2006/2007
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Power Cooperatives and Municipals in U.S. Are Better Equipped with GIS

Power cooperatives are owned and controlled by the members they serve, making them a unique form of business. Municipal power companies are owned and operated by local governments. With the interaction between utilities' technologies, it is important that technological standards and interoperable software be in place to provide an infrastructure that supports an exchange of information amid departments, between agencies, within consortiums, and on national levels.

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The Truckee Donner Public Utilities Department uses ArcGIS to create multilevel joins that show information from multiple databases in one common viewer interface.

Esri and its business partners work with the United States National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) MultiSpeak Initiative. The resulting software specification is designed to help small electric utilities share information between utility systems and encourage interoperability between systems. Esri supports a common data model, which is MultiSpeak compliant, regularly used by municipals and cooperatives. This model helps utilities jumpstart their electric distribution GIS implementations, which are used in the office and the field.

Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Corporation, a major electric utility cooperative in northeastern Indiana in the United States, has implemented an advanced field tool from Esri Business Partner Tadpole Technology, based on ArcGIS Engine. The mobile GIS leverages existing GIS investments for greater efficiency and productivity. It makes spatial data and functionality available to field crews and other utility staff working remotely and includes the ability to view, search, trace, route, link with GPS, and more.

Middle Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (MGEMC) in the United States embarked on a data collection and conversion process to upgrade its aging CAD system to Origin GIS, an Esri-based GIS system from Esri Business Partner Origin GeoSystems. As the Engineering Department grew more comfortable with the consistency and accuracy of the GIS data, the cooperative sought to improve the information that other departments within the utility used in their daily work. This improvement came in the form of electronic maps that provide all MGEMC personnel in the office and the field with up-to-date mapping data and customer information.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District in California is a showcase of utility-oriented GIS implementations. Between 80 and 85 percent of the company's personnel are now using GIS in their everyday operations. This northern California utility's GIS is built with ArcGIS software along with industry solutions from Esri Business Partners Advantica, Inc.; Orion Technology, Inc.; POWER Engineers, Inc.; Tadpole Technology—Geospatial Solutions Division; and Telvent Miner & Miner. It contains spatial and nonspatial databases. Recently, the utility implemented an intranet solution that brings the entire district's data sources together.

The City of Lexington, North Carolina, has a comprehensive GIS plan for its public utilities, supported by Esri Business Partner Geographic Technologies Group for its implementation. Its GIS includes an ArcGIS Engine field editing tool, ArcIMS software for organization-wide dissemination, and ArcGIS Desktop software for data maintenance. The system has greatly improved customer service. For example, before GIS, basic tasks associated with adding new customers were labor intensive and expensive. With GIS, much of the work is completed in the office.

The City of Painesville, Ohio, uses GIS to comply with government reporting guidelines. The municipal services include water, electric, storm water, and sewer services. With implementation services contracted from Esri Business Partner Metcalf & Eddy, the city has set up a system for government regulation compliance using ArcGIS. To meet government requirements, Painesville uses a publicly available materials cost index history. This cost is input into the GIS model along with other tables containing infrastructure information. Painesville's GIS also supports asset management for electric operations, system maintenance, and capital improvement planning.

The emerging use of GIS is simply making work more productive and utilities better equipped to meet the needs of their customers and members.

More Information

For more information, visit

See also "GIS Powers Electric Industry" and "Worldwide, GIS Transforms Electric Utilities."

Energy Currents is a free newsletter that provides an informative GIS perspective to the electric and gas community. It provides links to data resources, software tools, and announcements. Past issues of Energy Currents can be found at energycurrents. Any Esri publication can be subscribed to free of charge by visiting

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