GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Background Document Instructions: Term Project


Most utility companies now use GIS to site new transmission lines, either using in-house developed siting methodology or relying on outside consultants to develop the GIS siting framework. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a private R&D company closely tied to the utility industry, recognized the need to standardize the process of siting to bring even more objectivity, transparency, and creditability to the siting process. In 2002, EPRI joined forces with the Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC) to study transmission line siting and develop a process to make siting decisions more quantifiable, consistent, and defensible.

We will use an abbreviated EPRI-GTC Overhead Electric Transmission Line Siting Methodology for the term project. The graphic below shows a generalized flow line of how this methodology works. Click on the graphic below for a brief explanation.

Figure 9.3: Corridor Analysis Funnel
Click for the transcript.

The corridor analysis funnel is a high-level depiction of the siting process. The inputs to the funnel include community considerations, natural environment considerations, and engineering considerations.

Now the community considerations include things like human cultural resources, the natural environment includes things like plants, animals and water resources and the engineering considerations include physical constraints on the systems and features that would maximize location and minimize cost and schedule delays.

The information derived from each of these considerations is put into a geographic information system to determine values and weight for each of the considerations. Now as we move down through the funnel, the area of interest becomes more focused and defined and the data become more detailed and accurate.

Exiting the funnel is a culmination of the siting methodology where a preferred route or center line is proposed for the transmission line.

Now, as you go through the GIS analysis part of the project, you will analyze these considerations simultaneously to objectively determine the most suitable line location. To do this manually would require many man-hours of work, would be less accurate in the final outcome, and could lead to increased litigation, project delays and cost escalation because of a lack of objectivity and transparency.

Credit: PhotoScience

As the project manager, your first task will be to develop a background document outlining your understanding of the siting process and the assigned task. Specifically, you will need to answer the questions below from the Siting Transmission Lines Using the EPRI-GTC Siting Methodology document found in the Term Project Materials module. You will also conduct the siting analysis to determine the most appropriate location for the transmission line. Before the selected route can be made public, the actual location must be approved by our Transmission Line Siting Oversight Committee. In preparation for your meeting with the Committee, you will need to develop a background document including the items identified under ACTIVITIES>2. Activity>Part 2 below. REMEMBER: YOU ARE THE PROJECT MANAGER... TREAT THIS LIKE A REAL WORLD PROJECT... MEET DEADLINES, DELIVER A QUALITY PRODUCT, ETC... YOU WILL BE GRADED ACCORDINGLY.

Activity #1: Quiz

  1. Before taking the quiz, read the white paper titled "Siting Transmission Lines Using the EPRI-GTC Siting Methodology" located in the "Term Project Materials" module.
  2. Take the Lesson 9 Quiz.

Activity #2

Note: This assignment has two parts. 

Activity #2, Part 1

Caution! This exercise requires you to pay close attention to detail and follow the instructions completely. Failure to do so can result in completion delays, model run failures, and an unresponsive ArcMap.


I want you to be successful and have fun with the project…not become frustrated! So, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following the instructions in Lesson 9 step-by-step! Failure to do so has resulted in students having problems. I would suggest you go so far as printing them off and checking off each step as they are completed. I would also highly suggest you run it from start to finish in one sitting.

I would suggest you run the model on your local computer. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for Lesson 9. If you do not find answers there, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

NOTE: The following steps require you to have a C:\temp folder and to unzip files. If you are unsure how to do either of those, watch the Downloading the Term Project Files video in the Term Project Module before getting started.
  1. Download the PDF file titled "Transmission Line Siting Exercise Instructions ArcGIS Pro" document located in the "Term Project Materials" module to your C:\temp folder.
  2. Verify that you successfully unzipped the "" in Lesson 7.
  3. Verify that the "SAMPLE_ROUTING_PROJECT" folder created in your C:\temp folder (C:\temp\SAMPLE_ROUTING_PROJECT\) contains the following folders/files:
    • Analysis folder
    • Data folder
    • Base_Map.mxd(Esri Map Document)
    • SampleProject_Toolbox.tbx
    • Simplified_Epri_model.xls
    • Simplified_Route_Evaluation_spreadsheet.xls
  4. Follow the instructions in the "Transmission Line Siting Exercise Instructions ArcGIS Pro" document that you downloaded (step 1) to complete the exercise and find the optimal route. The instructions are very detailed, and a missed step can result in the siting model not executing. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS!

Activity 2, Part 2

Using a Word document or Google Docs, create a background document that includes the following elements:

  • a title page including project title, your name, course number, and date
  • a brief description of the project
  • the base map showing the study area in question
  • a map showing your selected route
  • the Data Normalized Table from the Excel spreadsheet
  • the Combined Rank Chart from the Excel Spreadsheet
  • your analysis/comments on why you chose your selected route including
    • an explanation of a normalized data table
    • an explanation of a combined rank chart
  • your conclusions/opinions about the best route identified in the Combined Rank Chart

Having Problems?

If you are having problems, please consult the FAQ for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you don't see the answers you need there, post your questions to the Lesson 9 General Questions and Comments Discussion Forum.

Submitting Your Work

Upload your paper to the "Lesson 9 Term Project: Project Background" drop box by the due date indicated on our course calendar.

Grading Criteria

I will grade your work using the Term Project Background Document Rubric