January 14, 2021
Bridger Valley Electric Association – There’s No Dust On This Co-Op’s GIS Shelf
There may be GIS “shelf-ware” at some other utilities, but not at Bridger Valley Electric Association. The co-op’s 28 full-time employees engage very actively with their GIS-based solutions and integrations.
Along with Futura GIS with Staking and Inspection capabilities and related integrations to other vendor’s solutions, Bridger Valley Electric Association (BVEA) is also using Futura’s Catalyst solution, enabling them to visualize assets and activities on accurate live maps and perform advanced analytics.
While BVEA may seem like a small utility, its 28 employees manage a 3,555 square mile service territory. Though the co-op has more than 6,000 members along its 1,391 miles of distribution lines, the population density is low, with an average of only five members per mile of line.
“GIS mapping has been ensuring BVEA’s crews know where to go reliably. This is a big deal, especially given conditions in the co-op’s territory across Southwestern Wyoming and Northern Utah: Our linemen get called out when it is the middle of the night and 20 degrees below zero and the snow is going sideways, yet they know they can depend on their GIS’s ongoing great reliability. ”
–Sean Sherwin, GIS Coordinator at Bridger Valley Electric Association
GIS TOUCHES EVERYTHING: “IT ALL FLOWS TOGETHER”
In his role as GIS Coordinator at Bridger Valley, Sean Sherwin provides valuable perspective on how widely embraced GIS solutions have become at their co-op and beyond, and on how pivotal their ways of utilizing GIS data and tools have become.
Beyond line crews’ GIS use cases in the field, Sherwin sees GIS data and tools providing great value and improving workflows across the organization. He says, “People may mistakenly think GIS is too specialized to meet their needs, but our use of GIS spans many disciplines of importance to our co-op, including how we analyze complex problems, and how we track assets and projects.”
Sherwin adds, “GIS is about how it all flows together. This is why GIS has expanded itself into all aspects of our utility. For example, our Engineering analysis is based on geospatial data, and our Accounting Department depends on it for a view into our assets and different tax zones and other things.”
GREAT RELIABILITY AND PORTABILITY
Uses for GIS-based solutions and integrations continue to expand for BVEA because they rely on and benefit from them so deeply across their territory.
GIS has been ensuring BVEA’s crews know where to go reliably. This is a big deal, especially given conditions in the co-op’s territory across Southwestern Wyoming and Northern Utah: “Our linemen get called out when it is the middle of the night and 20 degrees below zero and the snow is blowing sideways, yet they know they can depend on their GIS’s ongoing great reliability,” Sherwin says.
EXPANDING GIS USE-CASES AND TEAMWORK
Sherwin expects GIS use-cases to expand, adding, “We are sticking with the Futura and ESRI solutions for further expanding and automating data availability for portable devices and iPads. These steps are a huge benefit and are a perfect fit for our younger next generation of workers. For them it is already familiar like they are using something to them that seems just like their iPhone.”
Sherwin concludes, “The people at Futura are top notch and are great to work with. Adam Dinges has put together a tremendous team.”