May 4, 2006
Georgia Transmission Corporation has been selected as a winner of a 2006 Cooperative Innovators Award by the Cooperative Research Network (CRN) of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Georgia Transmission was honored for a new approach to siting transmission power lines that the company developed with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
The award, to be presented May 17 at NRECA’s Connect conference in San Antonio, is given each year by the association’s Cooperative Research Network to electric cooperatives that pioneer new technologies to enhance customer service. Georgia Transmission Corp. (GTC) is a not-for-profit electric cooperative that builds and maintains electric transmission lines and substations for 39 electric membership cooperatives throughout the state. Electric transmission lines are high-voltage lines that transmit power from plants and other generators to local utilities that distribute it to customers over neighborhood distribution lines.
“We are honored to win this award,” said Mike Smith, Georgia Transmission’s CEO. “We are especially gratified since the award will increase awareness of this important new tool. This gives planners and engineers new freedom to exercise their expert siting judgment by making it easier to manage multiple decisions and sets of geographic data. We feel that electric utilities would benefit enormously from this standardized siting process.”
The new transmission line siting approach was created during a two-year research effort spearheaded by GTC and jointly funded with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, Calif., and Photo Science, Lexington, Ky. In February, EPRI released the results of that research to the electric industry in the EPRI-GTC Overhead Transmission Line Siting Methodology. The report presents the new industry standard for siting overhead transmission lines by taking a sample transmission line construction project from initial planning through final route selection.
Judges for the Cooperative Innovators Award recognized GTC’s siting approach for its:
— Rigorous, step-by-step procedures for documenting and consistently applying planning assumptions, evaluation criteria and decisions,
— Successful integration of GIS software, including the use of suitability surfaces for natural, engineering and man-made conditions — a novel step that has potential application for GIS work on other linear utility siting,
— Achieving stakeholder consensus on the methodology and siting criteria during workshops with more than 200 officials from government agencies, utilities, environmental groups and neighborhood organizations from Georgia and neighboring states, and
— Demonstrated productivity and cost savings on GTC’s siting of several hundred miles of transmission lines, adoption of the process by East Kentucky Power Cooperative and other significant industry recognition.
The GTC-EPRI siting study team included national experts in geographic information systems (GIS) technology, facility siting and environmental compliance. Using GIS software called Corridor Analyst®, the methodology helps to produce siting decisions that are consistent, objective and defensible. The software maps all geographic features in a study area, assigns numerical suitability values to all features, enables public stakeholders to help set suitability values, assigns engineering constraints, generates corridor alternatives using statistically sound algorithms and generates reports summarizing criteria used and values assigned.
“The judges were particularly impressed by GTC’s entry,” said Bob Gibson of the Cooperative Research Network. “They recognized the high value of a scientific and quantifiable approach to siting power lines, one that promises to effectively involve stakeholders and streamline an increasingly difficult process.”
The CRN awards program is open to all 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives in the United States. GTC’s award was in the power generation and transmission category.
More information on the siting methodology is available at www.gatrans.com. Utilities interested in adopting the methodology may contact GTC at (770) 270-7050 or EPRI-GTCsiting@gatrans.com.
About Georgia Transmission Corp
Georgia Transmission, a not-for-profit company, plans, builds and maintains nearly 2,700 miles of electric power lines and 580 substations that transmit power to the state’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs). The EMCs provide electricity to about 4.2 million people in 157 of the state’s 159 counties. Georgia Transmission, owned by 39 of the state’s 42 EMCs, invests more than $100 million in new electric transmission facilities each year to keep pace with Georgia’s growing energy demand. www.gatrans.com
NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to more than 39 million people in 47 states. www.nreca.org
The Cooperative Research Network is the research arm of NRECA, focusing on business and technology solutions that can help electric cooperatives control costs, improve productivity and enhance service to consumers. www.crn.coop
Contact: Jeannine Rispin Haynes
Phone: (770) 270-7741