By Doug Yon, P.E.
With the advances in metering technology, managers in many maintenance and engineering departments are installing master metering and sub-metering devices that more closely and accurately monitor the flow of electricity into and through their buildings.
Many facilities have installed power meters on major energy-using components and critical equipment. These meters often feed a constant stream of real-time data that can inform and alert managers and technicians to changes in electrical use.
With the sophisticated reporting meters available, managers can pursue an active demand-response program. They now are able to monitor and determine when peak-demand periods are imminent.
Many electric utilities offer special programs and rate structures that can deliver significant cost benefits with a successful load-shedding agreement. For facilities in which power quality is critical, meters also can identify problem areas and engage integrated, real-time, power-factor-correction systems. For managers who want to take advantage of contract real-time pricing, a suitable time-of-use meter is critical.
In recent years, power metering has witnessed a number of technology advances, which generally fall into three areas:
Smart or advanced meters. Advanced meters can measure and record interval data and communicate the data to a remote location in a format that is easy to integrate into an advanced metering system.
Advance-metering infrastructure. This technology goes beyond automatic meter reading by supporting two-way communications with the meter.
Internet-enabled metering. Smart electric meters are designed to work over any internet, local-area network, or wide-area network connection. Instant access is possible using an Internet browser that can connect to an IP-specific meter. Features might include automatic e-mail data dispatches and alerts. This technology might require a service provider or proprietary dashboards.