Monitoring Energy Use Across Multiple Buildings

March 1, 2006
As plants look at energy consumption, the two areas of focus are on energy consumed during production, and the energy used in buildings and facilities.

Working on the belief that you can’t control what you can’t measure, Controlled Environmental Structures Inc. (CES), in Mansfield, Mass., was hired to manage the electricity consumed by AT&T across its 70 labs in five buildings in New Jersey.

While power quality remains the uppermost priority, energy consumption has also become a priority for lab managers. They face an increasing need for more energy in their individual labs. “The people who manage these labs are continually adding load to the grid, and they often tap out or exceed the limit on the power of that particular circuit. When the increased power demand trips the circuit breaker, they lose significant revenue,” says Rick Coan, vice president of the Controls Division of CES.

To monitor consumption, CES installed controllers from Opto 22, a Temecula, Calif.-based automation and controls vendor. The system sends out warnings before a circuit is tripped. “AT&T facilities people set amperage limits at 600 to 700 amps, although the lines are designed to handle 800 amps,” says Coan. “As the system nears its limit, messages are sent by e-mail and phone. The system alerts specific lab and facilities managers that they’ve tapped out their power resources and need to look at redeploying that need elsewhere.”

CES also uses its system to reduce energy at times when labs are known to be out of use. “They’re dealing with product quality and making sure there is no downtime,” says Coan. “But if they can get efficiency too, they want it.”

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Rising Energy Prices