T&D World Magazine

Washington Utility Signs Major UDSP Development Contract with Powel-MiniMax

Benton County Public Utility District #1 (Benton PUD), a leading energy distributor in Washington State, and Powel-MiniMax recently signed a contract to implement a fully integrated Utility Decision Support Platform (UDSP) system. The modular system includes design, GIS, work order management, engineering analysis, and outage management. Benton PUD will use UDSP to optimize the planning and distribution of electrical and fiber optic networks, maximize information sharing between multiple systems, and eliminate the errors and time inherent in existing manual processes. System delivery will start immediately and go live in 2006.

“We are looking for UDSP to be Benton PUD’s enterprise model for gaining efficiencies and revolutionizing the way we do business,” said Chris Folta, Benton PUD’s GIS manager. “Streamlining business processes is tantamount to the success of our utility – UDSP will be integral in accomplishing these goals.”

Benton PUD was attracted to UDSP’s fully integrated utility suite with built-in engineering analysis, GIS, system design, reliability analysis, and outage management. Underlying the seamless electronic map, which offers full GIS capabilities, is a complete electrical model. This structure enables users to perform engineering analysis during the design stage, without having to port data to and from separate applications. Having a built-in electrical model also enables optional enhancements, such as asset management, to be added without changing data models or applications. Benton PUD’s enterprise data is accessed through UDSP’s Oracle database, which was configured to Benton PUD’s specific needs.

Folta continued, “Increases in productivity don’t require utilities to work harder--we just need to work smarter. When we initially established the scope of this project, I remember thinking, ‘What is the point of maintaining accurate, up-to-date information if the people who need it can’t access it?’ UDSP will not only provide immediate information access across our organization, it will improve customer service, reduce redundant data entry, and integrate our workflow processes.”

Other decision criteria included ease of use, accessibility, customization, reliability, feature richness, cost-effectiveness, data security, and data versioning. Benton PUD was also attracted to UDSP’s open system, allowing it to integrate with its existing customer information system, financials, supply chain management, and power analysis applications.

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