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Smart meters enlighten engineers of base energy usage

Staff Sgt. Timothy Allen and Staff Sgt. Warner Houston, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron control shop heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration craftsmen, review data collected by new electric meters installed on 150 buildings across Kadena recently. The meters are connected wirelessly to a control point where 18th CES can access and review transmitted data on energy use around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Timothy Allen and Staff Sgt. Warner Houston, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron control shop heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration craftsmen, review data collected by new electric meters installed on 150 buildings across Kadena recently. The meters are connected wirelessly to a control point where 18th CES can access and review transmitted data on energy use around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)

A "smart" meter attached to a building's electrical system on Kadena is used to monitor energy use in the shop recently. The meters are a new tool a part of the base's cost savings initiative used to reduce wasted spending. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A "smart" meter attached to a building's electrical system on Kadena is used to monitor energy use in the shop recently. The meters are a new tool a part of the base's cost savings initiative used to reduce wasted spending. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 718thand 18th Civil Engineer Squadrons are in the process of installing and wirelessly connecting 217 electric meters on 150 high-energy consumption buildings as part of Kadena's cost savings initiative.

"The meters in and of themselves do not save money, but they are an essential tool in several ways," said Richard Hayden, 718th Civil Engineering Squadron energy/utility manager. "They show an accurate amount of electricity consumption of a particular facility that can prove savings from implementing energy conservation measures or projects."

Electrical consumption can be tracked, monitored and recorded via a wireless Energy Management Control System, then reported to major command and Air Force levels. The 18th CES mechanical shops also use this EMCS wireless network to monitor and control facility heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems remotely from their central operations center.

"The data is tracked inside [the meters'] memory and is also going to [the control room when they are] connected to the system," said Dan Sherrill, 718th CES civil engineer.
 
"We're getting all of the electrical qualities we'd like to know about; current, voltage and so on."

From the control center, utility managers will be able to "see" meter data and evaluate the facilities electrical patterns and consumption.

"Facility managers and their commanders can track their own consumption and compare themselves to other units or groups with similar facilities," Mr. Hayden added.

"Having real data tracking can show spikes or unexpected changes that may indicate problems in the facility system to which maintenance can investigate," Mr. Hayden said. "This isn't possible when you estimate electrical consumption using square footage."

Of course, extenuating circumstances such as surges in operations and extreme changes in temperature are taken into consideration, explained Michael Gilbert, 718th CES energy/utility manager. Smart meters reduce energy by shedding light on consumption. When users see what is really going on, they are more likely to consider how they use energy.

The 718th CES is currently in the process of adding electric meters across Kadena and is leading the way for other overseas bases, Mr. Hayden said.

"Over time, we will also add water meters to the EMCS and continue to expand to all facilities and Military Family Housing," Mr. Hayden added. "This is happening Air Force wide and will become an essential tool at all levels within the energy community and command."