Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Presidio now connected to Army’s Meter Data Management System

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published July 7, 2014
A screen shot of the Army's Meter Data Management System (MDMS) user interface.

A screen shot of the Army's Meter Data Management System (MDMS) user interface.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Presidio of Monterey, California, are the latest installations to connect advanced electric meters to the Army’s enterprise-wide Meter Data Management System that allows energy managers to monitor energy consumption from a building level and use that information to help reduce energy consumption and cost.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville (Huntsville Center) manages the $230 million Army Metering Program (AMP). 

AMP was initiated in response to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), which requires federal facilities to be metered with advanced meters where practical.  Most military installations were originally designed to measure electricity, gas and potable water only at incoming master meters.  Resource managers and policy makers have long desired meters on individual buildings, such as those that utilities have provided for homes and businesses for over a century.

Huntsville Center started installing advanced electric meters in 2008 and to date has installed nearly 8,000 of the 8,500 electric meters planned; 1,200 meters are connected to the MDMS and are reporting electric energy use by installation. The goal is to capture 65 percent of the Army’s energy use at the building level. 

Advanced electric meters are being installed on buildings that meet Office of the Secretary of Defense criteria: buildings had to consume an estimated $35,000 annually in energy costs to be considered economically justified for metering. The $35,000 per year cost equates to buildings of 29,000 square feet and larger. By placing the building meters downstream from the master meters, consumption can be measured and usage patterns identified with far greater detail and accuracy.

“Our program is coming down to finishing the electric meter requirement from EPAct 2005,” said Porscha Porter, a Huntsville Center electrical engineer who has been the program manager since 2012.  “It has been a challenge to get all these metering systems installed and reporting automatically.  Installing meters on the building was easy; getting the systems accredited and reporting meter data across the Army network has been quite the challenge.

“Now that we have crossed the major hurdle of the system accreditations, it’s getting a little easier to get the systems online,” Porter said.  “Being able to show progress and success is leading to more cooperation and more installations embracing MDMS.  Some of the installations with their own internal data gathering systems in place are now seeing the usefulness and benefit of the enterprise level MDMS system and the additional tools it provides to the energy managers.”

MDMS collects installation meter data in 15-minute increments and stores it in a secure environment indefinitely so users can access the information on their office computer/workstation. 

The system provides garrisons, regions, and headquarters personnel with energy consumption metrics that can be used to develop energy conservation measures (ECM) that streamline the energy manager’s efforts; improve the accuracy and speed of documentation for reimbursable tenant billing; and directly measure and verify the success or failure of ECMs.

“Ms. Porter has the background to work through the technical complexities of this program,” said Valerie Shippers, director, Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate, Huntsville Center.  “She routinely works with command-level personnel at the Network Enterprise Technology Command, Army Commands, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to resolve systemic issues threatening the meter installation, system accreditation and system installation.”

Shippers said Porter uses her technical expertise to lead her team through difficult challenges such as resolving meter data connectivity issues.  “She has ensured that five metering systems received accreditation to allow them to report meter data across the Army network, leading the way in accrediting mission systems of this type.”

“Our main function as the Army’s program manager has been getting all the key stakeholders together and working the critical program issues and challenges, leading and facilitating the decision-making by providing sound recommendations and technical solutions needed to connect these systems,” said Porter, who regularly briefs general officers and senior executives on the program’s status. “From our collaboration, we have worked together to come up with the most viable cost effective solutions across all the Army Commands.”

“We are still in the education phase of the program,” Porter said. “It is fairly new for some of the users so they are getting used to the system functionalities and the data recording. To help users become familiar with the system, we are conducting a series of webinars on how to use the system and the benefits from collecting this type of data.”

According to Porter, the benefits of the Army Metering Program and MDMS are twofold:

“1) The Metering Program gives us an energy baseline for identifying cost-savings initiatives for the future,” Porter said.  “To identify the measures to take, you have to know where you currently are. The mandate is to reduce energy consumption and cost.  This is the very first step.  That is how important it is.  You cannot make any big decisions until you first know where you are and can measure and track your progress going forward.  It is a critical point for energy savings. 

“2) For our program, having the MDMS not only provides information for local installations to use where they are, it will provide big Army the trending energy use data needed for decision-making.  It shows decision makers where to put money for initiatives and aid the installations in their energy conservation efforts.”