Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation recently enlisted geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri to help secure funding from Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The utility, serving northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, used GIS to prepare a new system analysis and facility planning report, both crucial for the loan justification.

“The maps and analysis made possible with Esri technology give us the whole picture, including the geographic details, of our electric system,” said Kean Steely, vice president of engineering and operations at Carroll Electric. “We are now able to provide an overall perspective of our utility improvement plans, which was particularly useful when preparing the system planning report for RUS.”

Carroll Electric’s move to GIS marks a significant improvement in how the utility maintains system records and displays data analysis—an improvement that was especially beneficial to the RUS reporting process.

GIS has changed the way Carroll Electric utility executives, engineers, operators, and crew visualize and study the electric network. Staff can access information about routing and cost to make confident recommendations for system improvements. The utility uses GIS to keep a record of these planned system improvements and to prepare appropriate documents for environmental reviews. Additionally, Carrol Electric can more easily maintain infrastructure data, analyze customer use for growth projection, and monitor the load flow of the electric network.

“More and more utilities are expanding the use of GIS beyond mapping,” said Bill Meehan, Esri director of utility solutions. “What Esri provides is a vital technology for utility planning and analysis as well as a means for effective communication with government agencies.”