Pioneering the Electric Transmission UN Model at Ameren

guiding compass on map

Project Highlights:

  • Ameren
  • 7,500+ circuit mi transmission
  • 2.4M electric customers
  • 900k+ natural gas customers
  • 64,000 sq. mi service territory

Headquartered in St. Louis, Ameren provides electric and gas services to Illinois and Missouri residents and manages over 7,500 circuit miles of electric transmission (ET) lines. As the first step in its smart energy grid strategy of developing a ‘Network Model Manager’ for ET transformers, the Esri Utility Network initiative built the foundation for the new and advanced GIS functionality required to support modern grid management. The 10-month project included the development of an ET Utility Network (UN) data model, migration of existing data, model configuration, and model integration with legacy systems.

Ameren is one of the first utilities in the industry to go into full production with an ET UN model. This implementation serves as a significant milestone for the entire ET industry, positioning Ameren as an industry leader for its peer utilities to follow by example as they undergo their own advanced network modeling transformations.

Advanced Network Modeling Goals

Ameren’s legacy ET GIS was built on an outdated data network and lacked the connectivity required to support the utility’s long-range goal of modern network management. Additionally, Ameren’s workflow included entering data manually in multiple systems, leaving the utility open to human error and process inefficiencies. These factors created challenges for GIS editors around ensuring high data fidelity with topology, relationships, and validations.

To overcome these challenges, the project aimed to eliminate siloed network models, implement topology and relationship checks and validations, incorporate a higher level of internal substation asset data, and create a basis for leveraging the UN’s advanced functionality.

Meeting these objectives is helping Ameren reach its long-term goals of operating under one data system of record and increasing interoperability amongst systems.

Leading the Way for ET Network Modeling

To prepare for transition to Esri’s ArcGIS Advanced Network Management, Ameren first conducted its own research on the new model prior to partnering with UDC. This step built a solid foundation for understanding company data and business goals with the added benefit of empowering the utility to play an active role throughout all stages of the implementation process.

During the research phase, Ameren learned there were minimal ET UN implementations in the industry up to that point. The available UN models were therefore designed for distribution rather than transmission data. Without examples to go by, Ameren needed to determine how to successfully fit its unique non-spatial data elements and requirements, such as dampers, cross arms, and other overhead assets, into the UN model. Through a collaborative approach with Esri and UDC, Ameren was able to incorporate these data considerations into Esri’s base UN data models and new releases over the course of the project.

This concerted effort has provided a playbook for Ameren’s peer utilities beginning their ET UN migrations. Rather than starting from scratch as Ameren did, organizations can reference the updated models that resulted from this project for guidance in their own transformations.

Implementation Approach

Completing the first phase of Ameren’s Network Model Manager initiative in 10 months, the project began with a robust analysis of the existing data using UDC’s auto migration tool HEIDE. This process involved sitting down with the Ameren team to learn about the source data and system to identify potential UN targets and concluded with mapping the schema to a UN template.

Subnetwork rules and trace configurations were established through an iterative, automated process leveraging UDC’s custom Toolkit for ArcGIS Pro and HEIDE. The tools validated the data as the schema, attributes, and domains were mapped to the new model. The team worked in parallel with the iterations to resolve any emergent data issues that would not be compatible with the model requirements. The UN model was then integrated with Ameren’s existing systems, with new integrations built based on the data mappings.

Advanced Network Tracing

UDC leveraged Ameren’s structure data to set up the subnetwork controllers. With the subnetwork tracing functionality, users can now trace all assets on transmission lines, even assets without connectivity such as structures. Junction to junction associations were additionally used to support connectivity for network tracing. The associations connected Ameren’s devices in the GIS without adding physical lines, enabling traces to run seamlessly from transmission lines through stations without additional mapping symbology.

Web AppBuilder to Experience Builder

Ameren further maximized the implementation process by upgrading its ET system viewer from Web AppBuilder (WAB) to Experience Builder. The transition to the modern technology is empowering Ameren users to take full advantage of the advanced UN tracing functionality as well as enabling future flexibility and longevity and providing tailorable out-of-the-box widgets to meet Ameren’s specific requirements.

UDC reconfigured the entire viewer in Experience Builder, porting over 80% of the functionality from WAB. The remaining 20% were custom WAB widgets that were developed in the new platform.

ET Utility Network Implementation Components

The features of the ET Utility Network Implementation project include:

  • Reviewing legacy software and hardware to verify UN requirements
  • Configuring UN servers, creating UN services, setting up versioning
  • Migrating ET GIS data to UN leveraging HEIDE
  • Creating junction/junction associations
  • Providing guidance on best practices to upgrade applications, tools, and scripts
  • Implementing new UN functionality (tracing and containment) into applications
  • Developing new ET Viewer on Esri Experience Builder platform
  • Updating legacy integrations
  • Assisting Ameren in promoting migrated ET data and integration code to enterprise environment

The ET migration and Esri Implementation project enabled Ameren to go from a disconnected geometric network to a fully connected utility network. With this shift, Ameren is now supported on the newest ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Pro releases. Other project implementation benefits include best practices alignment, future system scalability, structured GIS data editing, higher data quality and completeness, streamlined architecture, and increased security with authentication.

The next phases of Ameren’s smart energy grid strategy include modeling internal substations within the GIS, aligning data across systems, and performing network model integrations. These steps are building a basis for standardization for other Ameren businesses to potentially migrate in the future.

Learn more about Ameren’s journey to advanced network modeling in our joint Esri UC presentation – Implementing Advanced Network Modeling in Electric Transmission and read our answers to the audience collected presentation questions.

Services Employed