The 2019 ACEC/Iowa Engineering Excellence Awards winning projects in the Energy Production Category:

Energy Production Grand Place Award (1st Place in Category) 

Firm: Ulteig Engineers, Inc.
Client/Owner: Alliant Energy
Project: GIS Application Solution for Energy Distribution Projects
Contact:  Ms. Kylee Johnson
E-mail: [email protected] ~ Phone:  701-280-8633



Ulteig has a long history of providing electrical distribution design services to clients, and our approach has delivered quality results for many years. Ulteig’s client, Alliant Energy, expressed an interest in implementing an approach emphasizing design methodology in the field versus the more traditional GPS survey and design that uses engineering modeling software in the office. To support advancements in technology, in addition to new budget and collaborative data integration requirements, Ulteig developed an enhanced solution to providing electrical distribution design services.

At the start of any project, Ulteig gathers insight into the needs that each client seeks to address. In this case, Alliant Energy recognized the need to increase efficiency in both cost and hours spent on survey and design during their electrical distribution upgrades throughout the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Alliant Energy desired a faster way to account for all existing electrical utilities in the field at the beginning of project design. Ulteig listened and made investments in personnel to support the development of a field-based design solution that utilized Ulteig’s existing Geographic Information System (GIS) capabilities. Field engineers and members of the GIS team were brought on-site to lead this effort.

For years, Ulteig has applied GIS technology as one of many innovative surveying services to support engineering projects, tailoring the project approach to meet the unique needs of our clients. What makes this project unique is the use of GIS as the primary tool throughout the entire project, from planning to final design. Ulteig leveraged existing GIS capabilities to lead the development of this all-inclusive approach, capturing preliminary design data in the field using GIS mobile and web mapping applications.

Although distribution design projects involve multiple phases and complex tasks, Ulteig was able to understand how all components, existing and new, would work together in the revamped approach. The resulting GIS field design model utilized a combination of key components, including in-field iPads, GPS capabilities and cloud-based web services, to provide a data focused deliverable that created a time-saving process. Using the iPads and GPS receivers, Ulteig developed an interactive inventory of the client’s existing utilities (poles, transformers, junction boxes, etc.), which was accurate to the centimeter, and provided the data necessary to begin the design process. From there, Ulteig leveraged cloud-based web services that made it possible to share real-time data and project updates between all participants, eliminating the need for redlined paper maps and minimizing time intensive conversations.

Ulteig's streamlined in-field design process created for Alliant Energy’s electrical distribution system upgrades resulted in many benefits and increased efficiencies. System efficiencies are being continually developed but Ulteig’s solution has already shown potential for shorter project timelines and real-time project updates with less paper markups and corrections. The tool’s efficiency transfers over to decreased outages and downtime within the electrical distribution system, which will increase service reliability for the client’s energy consumers. With continual updates and analyses, there is potential for many additional future benefits arising from this method. This approach has subsequently been applied to multiple projects with Alliant Energy in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Alliant Energy’s collaboration and willingness to try something new has propelled Ulteig forward as a leader in the industry.

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