Rio Grande Electric Cooperative improved its mapping and communication capabilities by securing better access to geographic information system (GIS) technology through ESRI's Small Utility Enterprise License Agreement (SU-ELA) program. The SU-ELA program makes it easier and more affordable for utilities in the United States with 100,000 meters/connections or fewer to get started or expand their GIS.

Rio Grande Electric Cooperative serves 11,804 meters spread throughout 18 counties in Texas and 2 in New Mexico. The utility maintains 9,416 miles of energized line, 143 miles of transmission line, and 116 miles of underground line.

"We have a large service territory and only 1.25 meters per mile," said Conrad Dalton, Rio Grande Electric's information technology manager. "We look forward to taking this next step in digital mapping. With improved maps and mobile GIS, our linemen will not have to bother with cumbersome paper maps in the field. The enhanced GIS will make our utility more efficient and should improve customer service and outage restoration times."

Through the SU-ELA program, Rio Grande Electric is assured unlimited deployments to desktop, server, and mobile devices of ESRI's ArcGIS platform. Additional program benefits include maintenance and support for products, staff training, and passes to ESRI's International User Conference.

"With all the ESRI products built in, the ELA will allow our GIS to grow along with our utility," Dalton said. "With faster access to information, we will be able to provide our members with a higher level of service. We plan to fully utilize GIS and keep expanding its capabilities."

At the heart of the SU-ELA program is ESRI's ArcGIS software, an open, scalable, and interoperable platform that provides a complete system to create, serve, and use geographic information. An enterprise GIS, based on ArcGIS technology, benefits designers, analysts, decision makers, field staff, and customers through mobile, Web, server, and desktop applications.