The mission of this group is to bring together utility professionals in the power industry who are in the thick of the digital utility transformation. 


GIS: Helping Utilities Weather the Storm

image credit: ID 111254173 © motortion |
Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

  • Member since 2017
  • 878 items added with 508,493 views
  • Jul 22, 2019

This item is part of the GIS in Utilities - Summer 2019 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

  • More than 2,000 customers Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) were affected by an outage. 
  • More than 7,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers were without power Monday morning in UT
  • As many as 12,000 customers lost power during an outage in Jamestown, NY.    
  • 51,000 customers in Hawaii lost power after Hurricane Barbara. 
  • Blackout in Manhattan leaves 90,000 without power
  • Storms and flooding in Arlington, VA left several business without power.

Your access to Member Features is limited.

Whether its wind, rain or failing equipment, utility operators are faced with outages and the tremendous task of restoring power as quickly as possible.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said power outages cost more than $150 billion annually so utilities are eager to manage and prevent their darkest fears.  How have they met the challenge?  Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes historical outage data collected by utilities and allows a computer to generate predictions for future needs based on forecasted weather conditions.  With a recent release that combines domain expertise with AI and machine learning (ML), GE Power is providing new analytics to tackle challenges in electric grid operations.  One of the three grid analytics packages uses data from across transmission and distribution networks to help utilities manage storm readiness.  Utilities also create simulations to prepare for outages but a great deal of data is required to recreate an event and review how the grid actually performed. It requires having a system that can capture all the devices on the grid and assemble the information in a way that can be replayed in real time. 

The Storm Readiness package that GE Power has uses high-resolution weather forecasts, outage history, crew response and geographic information system (GIS) data to visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns and trends.  GIS is still mapping, analyzing and managing geographic information but the digital shift makes maps available on many devices and allows for centralized updates and greater accuracy. 

Esri, a global market leader and supplier of GIS software, recently awarded San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) with an International Award for Use of GIS Technology.  Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of customer services for SoCalGas and senior vice president of distribution operations for SoCalGas and SDG&E stated, ”Whether it's helping our staff provide excellent customer service to homes and businesses, or using mapping data to monitor pipelines or power lines during an emergency response, Esri's platform helps us keep our systems in service, increase productivity, and ultimately serve our customers better.”  Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president explained, ”Both utilities have created a platform that is agile, helps mitigate damage and provides support to the people who need it, when they need it.”

Almost every data point at a utility can be tied to the map via a customer, an asset, a crew, or even the work being performed.  That fact alone highlights the benefits of using GIS data and as it relates to outage management, the data is invaluable. Unifying data on a secure, scalable and user-friendly platform drives efficiencies, allowing data stored in one location to be used by many systems across the energy value chain, from generation to consumption.  Armed with new tools and innovative technology, utility operators just might be able to weather the storms.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 22, 2019

Almost every data point at a utility can be tied to the map via a customer, an asset, a crew, or even the work being performed

Boy, I'd love to get a behind the scenes tour and see what those maps and computers look like on the daily. My imagination takes me here:

Nevelyn Black's picture
Thank Nevelyn for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »