EGUG Meeting in Albuquerque

Message from the Editor: EGUG Meeting in Albuquerque

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week, the 16th annual ESRI Electric and Gas User Group Meeting (EGUG) was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hosted by Power of New Mexico (PNM), the event drew approximately 150 attendees, including some international visitors.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, People, Contracts, Awards, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

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Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor



Industry News
EGUG Meeting in Albuquerque
by Susan Smith

The 16th annual ESRI Electric and Gas User Group Meeting (EGUG) was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico October 9-12.

“The Sky’s the Limit” was the theme, which tied in with Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta. The plenary session kicked off with Gathen Garcia, conference chair, introducing the agenda, which included a site visit to the Power of New Mexico (PNM) (to see the gas control center and the call center), data model work and various other technical sessions.

Joel Ivy, Vice President of Technical Services for PNM, delivered the keynote and talked about New Mexico’s cultural heritage, which includes the heritage of native Americans as well as Spanish settlers. In April of 1706, Governor Francisco Cuervo de Valdez sent a letter to the viceroy of New Spain saying that he had formed a settlement on the banks of the Rio Grande (which the viceroy was not too happy about, but ultimately got used to the idea). This last April, Albuquerque celebrated its 300th anniversary.

Ivy spoke about the need for Best Practices in gas and electric. In June, 2005 Texas-New Mexico Power Company (TNMP) was acquired by PNM Resources, an energy holding company based in Albuquerque. PNM and TNMP had different operating systems, according to Ivy, and noted that it is inefficient to maintain multiple systems providing the same functionality.

“In theory, best practices will expose the most efficient manner to best perform processes based on what you know to be true,” said Ivy. “Events like this (EGUG) encourage you to look at other best processes. When you acquire a company, it adds value to the acquisition if you can consolidate some of the processes.”

Some facts about PNM –
- it is New Mexico’s largest investor owned utility.
- it provides both electric and gas service for 405,000+ electric customers and 480,000+ natural customers
- Avistar – unregulated product development and marketing arm of PNM

Some facts about TNMP –
- Texas’ fifth largest investor owned utility with some facilities in New Mexico
- it provides community based electric service to 85 cities and more than 256,000 customers in New Mexico and Texas.
- First Choice Power – unregulated service provider in (a whole other country)

TNMP formed First Choice Power which has service areas for TNMP in southern New Mexico and continues to operate. After the acquisition, it will operate in virtually the same way, except it will be consolidating the southern New Mexico holdings into the PNM assets.

GIS platforms are the current technology at PNMR, according to Ivy. ESRI for transmission has been at PNM for over 10 years. Intergraph FRAMME for distribution has been at PNM for over 25 years. TNMP has a legacy (IBM) GFIS mainframe system that has been at TNMP for over 20 years which is still working.

“Each one of these platforms has matured into a well positioned and functional system contributing value to the business processes,” claimed Ivy. “When you have systems like this that are adding value, people say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Normally motivation of consolidation comes in the form of money savings, and process improvement. In our situation, the motivating factor became, we need to migrate to a single platform.”

Corporate budgeting systems are either underway or already consolidated.

Steps to achieving goals:
- review redundancies and streamline efforts
- identify best practices from both companies’ technologies – for example, distribution, standards (compatible units) and CIS interfaces
- standardize on technologies that enhance value and increase efficiencies
- adopt new technologies for increased efficiencies.

“We are also standardizing on versions of AutoCAD, using corporate licensing and floating seats to get better management over AutoCAD,” said Ivy.

What has been accomplished so far:
- single Enterprise GIS platform has been identified (ESRI)
- maintain functionality and robustness of existing systems while migrating to a single platform
- requires close coordination to external applications
- leverage current industry technology while migrating to the single platform.

An enterprise GIS team was put together in 2005 and in June 2006 to establish the single Enterprise GIS system. At that time, the following targets were established:

- GIS enterprise platform – ESRI and ArcFM
- Migration of GFIS system for Texas operations to ArcFM to be completed Q2 2007
- Migration of Intergraph system for PNM operations to ArcFM to be completed by Q2 2009.

High level objectives include customer loyalty, community leadership, environmental sustainability and others. The company will create a Trouble Management System (TMS), materials management, and IGDS.

How does this standard for GIS fit in with the rest of your utility systems? the question was raised. Electric and gas companies are charged with a concept called ‘efficient use of energy.’ PNM will use smart grid technology and continue to refine technology. Many news and weather stations are now using Google Earth as their backdrop, and some SCADA systems will integrate with the new GIS standard.

Fernando Martinez, Energy Conservation & Management Division, Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), has done extensive work in land and reclamation programs.

Martinez has been involved with GIS since the early 90s. He talked about “renewable energy in New Mexico.” The most important issues world are global warming, energy shortages, oil peaking in the next 20-40 years. “We must deal with them today, and need short and medium solutions to get us through the interim period, and find ways to increase our supplies,” said Martinez.

New Mexico has a lot of renewable and non renewable resources, which include oil, gas, and coal, and renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. “We believe we can diversify our resources, while we’re reducing demand for energy,” said Martinez. “The U.S. is about half as energy efficient as Japan and Europe. We use 25 percent of the world’s fuel supply. There’s a lot of room to take advantage of efficiencies. We feel we can protect our citizens from energy shortages and price spikes and expanding economic development by reducing our dependence on energy imports. We can get some energy security if we handle policies in the right way.”

His discussion focused mostly on what policies and programs were in place in New Mexico to move the state forward in the use of renewable energy. New Mexico Governor Richardson is proactive in energy field, and has formed a Clean Energy Development Council which pushes clean energy around the state

Major program areas of the council include renewable fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, propane, and hydrogen. For renewable energy, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal.

EMNRD has dedicated $100,000 from state funding sources to support infrastructure development.

New Mexico has so many sunny days and is second in the nation in solar resources. Solar resources can be used in a distributed way by using solar panels on buildings and in agricultural activities. Solar can also be used for thermal – for space cooling and water heating.

“We have a keen interest in concentrating solar power in a huge centrally located facility that we don’t have in New Mexico yet,” said Martinez. “They have them in California. There is a big capital investment up front, pays for itself over time because sun is a renewable energy source, and free. It could be very cost effective in New Mexico.”

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