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AF advance meter reading system given authority to operate

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida - The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s advanced meter reading system program was recently granted full authority to operate, officially launching an initiative to provide unprecedented energy saving opportunities to Air Force engineers, base energy managers and other decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Elliott/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida - The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s advanced meter reading system program was recently granted full authority to operate, officially launching an initiative to provide unprecedented energy saving opportunities to Air Force engineers, base energy managers and other decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Elliott/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida -- The Air Force Civil Engineer Center's advanced meter reading system, or AMRS, program was recently granted full authority to operate, officially launching an initiative to provide unprecedented energy saving opportunities to Air Force engineers, base energy managers and other decision makers.

The authority to operate, or ATO, represents the culmination of a 3-year process of planning, testing and optimizing AMRS to ensure the reliability and information security of the platform.

"To obtain the ATO, the AMRS program was required to meet exhaustive information assurance guidelines," said Jesse Brosig, an AFCEC information security assurance engineer.  "Our team had to address thousands of checks to get the proper security compliance rating for the system, as well as develop plans and policies for future sustainment of the system - how we would recover it in the event of a disaster, password protection issues and other information technology protections."

AMRS utilizes a software called Wonderware as the basic platform to integrate all metered buildings on a base, allowing users to view energy consumption building-by-building in near-real time. This data, combined with built-in analysis tools, enables installation engineers to integrate energy conservation measures into daily asset management decisions.

Having this granular data is crucial, but the goal of AMRS is action, said Shannon Brittain, the AMRS project manager at AFCEC.

"At the end of the day, AMRS is a tool to discover and implement energy savings opportunities," she said. "The system will provide energy demand and usage data to energy managers, but the idea is to use that data to make actual changes to reduce energy consumption across the Air Force."

The Air Force started metering its larger facilities in 2008 as part of an effort to gain information about base energy consumption at the building level. To improve its ability to monitor energy use Air Force-wide, the service began a process in 2010 to identify a software solution that would connect and manage meters at each base on a centralized platform.

In November 2013, AFCEC received interim authority to operate this integrated solution, called the advanced meter reading system.  AMRS was installed as a test program at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and Beale Air Force Base, California.  Preparations are now underway to fully field the system, focusing initially on higher energy-consuming installations, and eventually across the Air Force enterprise where economically feasible.

Until now, Air Force metering policy required bases to install smart meters that were compliant with the Unified Facilities Guide Specifications, but without connecting them to any communication or software until  the office of the director of Air Force Civil Engineering  determined a software solution. Since the ATO has been signed, that solution is now AMRS.

"Because this program has taken years to get off the ground, base energy managers have been hearing about AMRS for a while," said Nathaniel Shiflett, an industrial control systems technician at AFCEC. "This ATO is an indication that the AMRS program is now moving forward; we are about to deploy Air Force-wide, and it is time to work together to ensure all pre-requisites are in place and your base is ready for AMRS integration."