Korea Electric Power Corporation, South Korea’s sole generator and distributor of electricity, has successfully implemented GIS technology to manage its extensive T&D network more efficiently.

By Jim Baumann, ESRI, USA

Hansung Electric Company, the first electric power company in Korea, was formed in 1898, shortly after Emperor Gojong sent a special envoy to the Edison General Electric Company in the United States to arrange for the installation of three 7 kW steam power generators in the Kyongbok Palace.

The rapid development of regional electricity companies followed, and in 1961 the Korea Electric Company (KECO) was established when three companies merged to form one national company. In 1982, KECO was renamed the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and became a wholly government owned corporation.

KEPCO’s Power Expansion

Today, KEPCO is the sole electricity generator and distributor in South Korea, serving a population of nearly 49 million. In 2005, the company provided 332 TWh of electricity across the national power grid. The transmission network is about 30 000 km long and the distribution network nearly 400 000 km long. KEPCO’s substation capacity is now in excess of 200 GVA to meet the ongoing construction of high-capacity lines throughout South Korea. The company operates 58 power generating plants, 16 of which are nuclear.

KEPCO plays a key role in the South Korean economy because of the country’s rapid economic expansion over the past decade. The company’s workforce totals more than 34,000, and it is one of the country’s most profitable companies.

The Korean government regularly issues a Long-Term Power Development Plan (LPDP), which provides structure and direction in meeting the country’s increasing demand for electricity. It is also a guide for additional power generation facilities and the expansion of its transmission and distribution network. The new plan projects an increase in the country’s generation capacity to 88 150 MW by 2020.

According to Jae-ho Park, General Manager of KEPCO’s Transmission Division, “Our substation capacity is expected to propel KEPCO into one of the five largest electric utility companies worldwide and establish it as an electric power hub in northeastern Asia.”

The company is involved in various foreign projects, including the Malaya thermal power plant in the Philippines and the Wuzhi circulated fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) power project and the Jiulishan coal fired power project in the Henan Province of China. KEPCO is also working with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to build nuclear power generating units in the Kumho region of North Korea and is involved in transmission and distribution consulting projects in Myanmar, the Philippines and Libya.

Improving network management

Many of KEPCO’s transmission-related facilities are newly constructed and others have been recently renovated, and because their legacy system was text based, the company faced many challenges in managing that information and responding in a timely manner in the case of a power outage or other emergency.


Users can effectively find, edit and view all information on overhead transmission facilities
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As a result, KEPCO began searching for a more efficient means of managing its growing collection of spatial data, ultimately leading to the implementation of its transmission geographic information system (TGIS) in 2003. TGIS was specifically designed to efficiently manage KEPCO’s transmission-related facilities. The spatial database and related applications have integrated all the company’s electricity transmission data, including maintenance history and available resources, which has not only led to greater efficiency but also cost savings.

TGIS is based on ESRI’s ArcGIS family of software. The installation includes ArcSDE, ArcIMS, ArcInfo, ArcEditor and ArcGIS Schematics. KEPCO and Sundosoft Inc., an affiliated company of ESRI Korea, were responsible for implementing the project.

KEPCO and Sundosoft decided on a three-phase implementation of TGIS. In the first phase, the existing paper-based facility information was transferred into a digital database, which was separated into two parts – overhead and underground transmission lines. This spatial database contains a variety of information determined to be critical in the development of TGIS, including the country’s national basemaps, substation attributes, field information related to individual facilities, transmission network information, maintenance history and lightning-strike data.

In the second phase, a decision support system was developed using the newly created digital database. Facility data from TGIS are extracted and forwarded to KEPCO’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to better manage the company’s business processes and distribute GIS services across the organization.

TGIS is composed of five primary applications for management of basemaps, overhead and underground transmission facilities, system management and online facility search. The spatial database contains all electricity transmission infrastructure and facilities information, including implementation and modification history and connection information. The system also maintains details regarding the availability of nearby resources for maintenance and repair projects. TGIS has facilitated the integration of all of KEPCO’s transmission-related data, which has led to major cost savings for the company.

The availability of the TGIS applications allows the company’s management to make much better day-to-day and long-term decisions, such as determining when an existing facility should be replaced, what is needed to supply stable electricity to a region and how many new transmission lines will be required to meet the future electrical supply plan. ArcGIS was instrumental in this stage of the development by providing systematic knowledge, an integrative framework, analytic methods and intuitive visualization.


Transmission network management application, showing the status of substations and transmission distribution
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Korea Electric Power Data Network (KDN), one of KEPCO’s subsidiaries, has developed links from TGIS to other systems for facility planning and maintenance, as well as construction and operation management. In addition, the spatial database is available to other government agencies for a nationwide geographic information-sharing project.

Full system Integration

With the second phase having been completed, the company is preparing for the implementation of the third phase, which will allow the system to function as a true enterprise GIS by further integrating its management capabilities and providing web-based GIS services.

Using ArcGIS Server, the data and applications of TGIS will be available on the web. The result will be an open, scalable and standards-based GIS architecture that will integrate and leverage existing information technology resources. The newly implemented GIS will meet diverse business and engineering needs now and in the future. All staff members that need transmission data will be able to easily find, review and edit that data from their local computers without the need to install additional software. This will eliminate both the time needed to manage local data and the need to learn the skills necessary to do so. Senior managers at the company anticipate that the web-based GIS will lead to significant cost savings and make KEPCO’s work processes more efficient and seamless.

TGIS provides the staff members of KEPCO’s Transmission Division with transmission facility data, maintenance history and current line status overlaid on national topographical and land registration basemaps. The GIS allows staff to increase the value of the company’s data with powerful visualization and cartographic capabilities and advanced spatial analyses. It is a key component in managing the transmission facility and has helped KEPCO streamline its business processes by providing more accurate asset and network data, increasing data access and facilitating analysis, modeling, reporting, better regulatory compliance and improved customer service.

TGIS has enabled KEPCO to more efficiently manage its transmission and substation information with the integration of facilities asset data into the GIS, the automation of certain maintenance procedures and the implementation of a GIS-based site-selection process. As a result, the company has been able to save costs and make better and quicker decisions, which makes it more competitive. Additionally, since the system continues to evolve and because the third phase will include substation management, it has been decided to rename it the Transmission & Substation GIS because of the expanded functionality.