GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Population and Residential Data (census data, etc.)

Protesters outside a Bonneville Power Administration office in Van Mall, Oregon.
Figure 8.12: Protesters outside a Bonneville Power Administration office.

Here we see protesters outside a Bonneville Power Administration office in Van Mall, Oregon. BPA proposed a new high-voltage transmission line between new substations in Clarke Rock and Troutdale, Oregon. Residents contend BPA should find less populated areas. Current demographic data is essential in minimizing the impact transmission lines have on neighborhoods, and, at times, the best data may still not be good enough.

Why we need it

Demographic data is essential for planning new transmission lines. It is used to make population projections to identify significant growth areas within a utility's service area. Planners then identify locations for the expansion of transmission lines and electric substations. In addition, both current and future projections of population density in a proposed transmission line project area provide the planner with another source of information on where to propose primary and alternate transmission line routes. In many instances, populated areas are the most significant challenge to siting a transmission line. Residents do not want unsightly overhead transmission lines running through or close to their neighborhoods for fear of property devaluation or concerns about the health implications of electromagnetic fields.

Where to find it

  • The U.S. Census Bureau's data website is a source for demographic data for the United States, as well as for individual states.
  • In addition, individual county and city GIS websites provide access to land ownership and land parcels. The availability of this data for download varies from county/municipality to county/municipality.

Tell us about it!

Do you have a suggestion or two for additional data sources? Do you know of any international sources? Use the Discussion Forum to share your suggestions with the class!