Cleveland Utilities invests in tech upgrade

Cleveland Utilities invests in tech upgrade

March 25th, 2012 by Paul Leach in News

Bart Borden, electric division manager for Cleveland Utilities

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland Utilities' electric division plans to incorporate new technologies in its work over the next fiscal year.

On Thursday, utility officials announced several projects intended to increase the efficiency and flexibility of the organization's functions.

One of the key changes essentially revamps the utility's computer server system, said Walt Vineyard, vice president of information technologies for Cleveland Utilities.

"It's the lifeblood of the operation as far as dealing with our customer database and our customers that come in," he said.

The plan is to virtualize the utility's eight existing servers, which include customer account records and the main office cashier system. Vineyard said replacing the server hardware with a virtual environment would cost only $90,000, compared to the $225,000 it cost to purchase the servers originally.

Cleveland Utilities has tested the virtual environment on its email system, he said.

A major advantage of virtualizing the utility's servers, Vineyard said, is that it is conceivable that the system could be restored off-site at Cleveland government offices.

"We could pull our whole system back up, over there, very quickly," he said.

Cleveland Utilities also will join Bradley County and Cleveland in a project to update their topographical maps with new geographic information system data, Electric Division Manager Bart Borden said.

The utility's current topographical information is 20 years old, he said, and the new maps will be accurate to within 15 to 30 centimeters and display two-foot contours.

Borden said the engineering department also will continue to develop and implement in-house paperless workflow software. The utility has created efficiencies with computer programs designed to monitor individual electric pole performance, he said.

One of the more visible projects for the electric division will be overhauling the traffic signal network in downtown Cleveland.

The project to replace the 13-signal system that controls traffic along Broad, Ocoee and Inman streets will replace pre-1990 equipment, according to previous statements made by Borden.

The new system will use either a network based on a global positioning system or a radio-based fiber-optic system, Borden said. The project, still in the design phase, will cost about $84,000.

He said the engineering department also is researching the possible use of magnetic induction lighting for streets and parking lots. The long-lasting lights, which are a combination of electromagnetic and fluorescent technologies, produce a white light with instant startup, Borden said.

The lights, which can last up to 100,000 hours, are very energy efficient, he said.