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Calif. Navy Base Smart Meters Cutting Energy Waste

Leon Walker

NBVCBy using smart meters to pinpoint energy waste, Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., has so far saved the base at least $35,000 a year in energy bills, reports The Lighthouse.

The base (pictured) has around 300 smart meters installed at various facilities across the base. The meters have become a vital tool in the base’s attempt to cut its $1 million energy bill by 10 percent by the end on the year, the newspaper, which covers the Ventura County naval community, says.

Base resource efficiency manager Mike Wiltshire recently saved the base $5,000 a year after finding wastage in the long-since boarded up Quonset huts that previously housed the base’s museum. Internal lights, circuit breakers and perimeter lights had been mistakenly left on or were being mistakenly turned on automatically in the huts. Wiltshire was alerted to the problem by smart meters showing that electricity was stil being used in the facility, the paper reports.

Every month Wiltshire scans the smart meter readings looking for energy use where it shouldn’t be in a bid to find savings as the base strives for the 10 percent energy cut.

This approach highlighted a massive surge in energy use in the base’s golf clubhouse starting a 4 a.m. Investigation showed that the building’s thermostats had never been set correctly and cooling equipment was coming on in the dead of night and running non-stop until 10 p.m. seven days a week. Adjusting the thermostat schedules is saving the base around $10,000 a year, the paper reports.

Wiltshire found a $20,000 saving off the base’s energy bill in another building where cooling equipment was coming on at weekends and being used excessively in daytime hours, the paper reports.

The base has been examining smart meter data for about two years. A recent analysis of the data showed that some large base buildings were able to lower their energy use by as much as 51 percent in a month. Others had increased their energy use – one by 18 percent, the paper reports.

And despite occasional spikes in use from a new piece of equipment being brought in, most of the time the problem is behavioral according to energy manager Tom Santoianni, the paper reports. Employees leaving computer equipment, lights and coffeemakers on is a big part of the problem, he says.

Negative perceptions about smart meters in the US are causing the country to fall behind Europe — and pay more for mismanaged energy — according to a November Forbes.com guest post by Varun Nagaraj, senior vice president of product management and marketing at energy networking technology company Echelon Corporation.

Although regulators have repeatedly said smart meters are safe, utility customers across the US continue to express concern about the digital devices. Some users say radio waves emitted by smart meters have made them sick, and others raise privacy concerns about customer consumption data collected by the smart meters.

According to Forbes.com, smart meter technology in European uses power lines to communicate, instead of radio frequency, which is used in the US. This allows European utilities to avoid radio-frequency related health and privacy concerns, which have plagued US utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric.



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