GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Lesson 1 - Roles of GIS in Energy System Siting Decisions


Is ArcGIS 10 Installed on your computer?

We will begin using this software next week. If you have not yet received your free copy, please contact our Program Assistant immediately, Susan Spaugh, at or toll-free (U.S.) at 877-713-7778!

An Overview of Lesson 1

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have evolved to the point where they are now being used in almost every segment of the economy. A familiarity with GIS and how GIS can be leveraged to solve business, engineering, environmental, and social problems is a skill that is in demand in all business sectors. In the energy sector, GIS is used to assist with the siting of new generation facilities, help determine the optimum route for new transmission and distribution lines, to determine demographic changes as part of long-range planning, and to develop emergency evacuation plans around nuclear-generating facilities, just to name a few. The problem-solving potential for the use of GIS in the energy sector is unlimited.

What will we learn in Lesson 1?

In this lesson, we will introduce GIS and learn about its history, the hardware and software requirements to make it operate, and the sources of software, from free/open-source to commercially available programs. By reading the referenced case study, we will see how GIS is used in the siting of an electric transmission line. 

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify and describe the key components of a GIS framework, including:
    • hardware and software requirements
    • types of geographic/spatial data
    • publicly available software
  • Critically evaluate the use of GIS in an energy system siting decision
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of an energy system siting public participation study

What is due for Lesson 1?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Calendar for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignments below can be found in this lesson.

  • Take a short quiz.
  • Engage in a class discussion of the case study.


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.