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THE power management needs of Edwards Air Force Base are not ordinary. Located in the Mojave Desert, the massive campus covers 301,000 acres (470 square miles). It’s also home to multiple high-level testing and research facilities including the NASA-Dryden Flight Research Center that supports Space Shuttle operations and the Air Force Flight Test Center.

Reducing Consumption Through Better Power Management

Electric utility bills on this massive compound average about US$20 million a year. High security requirements, frequent hurricane-level winds, torrential rains, ageing infrastructure and government-imposed energy reduction mandates all present a unique set of power management challenges. Edwards Air Force Base’s facility managers needed a more robust power monitoring system to address these challenges and called on Schneider Electric for solutions.

Edwards receives high voltage power of 115kV from the utility and distributes it to its buildings and tenants, such as NASA. In 2003, an EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert from Schneider Electric was installed to help monitor and manage the high voltage electrical distribution system and usage within its facilities. The system, receives, records and analyses data provided by more than 100 Schneider Electric power meters and circuit monitors throughout the base.

Less Downtime And Fewer Wide-Spread Outages

Improving processes to reduce consumption is only part of the payoff, according to Ron Ryan, Edwards Air Force Base SCADA Systems Manager. Improved reliability and fewer maintenance and repair hours are also major benefits of the EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert.

“Before we had the system, we were experiencing widespread power outages,” Ryan said. “Power mains were opening at the switch stations, and we didn’t really have the data to analyse why that was happening. Typically, someone would just go out and inspect the feeders. But without having any data to analyse the sequence of events, we really did not have any way to determine what needed to be changed.”

“Data from the EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert allowed us to sit down with the coordination software and plot our protective devices based on real data. We’ve been able to isolate faults to the smallest possible area so that we don’t have wide-spread power outages.”

Power outage on the base costs about US$200,000 an hour. Ryan estimates that the new system has helped the base avoid approximately five hours’ worth of outages a year since 2003, an estimated savings of US$1 million annually.

Maintaining An Ageing Infrastructure

Buildings and infrastructure on the base date back to the 1940s. The power monitoring system provides maintenance managers with the information to prompt necessary upgrades to the ageing facilities.

“Some of our underground distribution is getting old so the system can give us good information on where we can direct our resources and how to proactively replace aged lines,” Ryan said. “We can tie in our circuit protection devices and relays to our circuit monitors, triggering alarms with pre-emptive disturbance wave forms to isolate which phase is having a problem.”

A Partnership For The Future

Due to the success of the power monitoring system, Ryan has looked to Schneider for additional assistance. Schneider Electric’s Engineering Services’ Power Systems Engineering team was recently contracted to perform an engineering study aimed at solving more issues related to the once-frequent power outages on the base.

As new buildings, runways and other facilities are added to the base, the Schneider Electric power monitoring system helps to ensure adequate electrical infrastructure is in place to support the new developments.

For more on this story, check out the full Edwards Air Force Base case study.

 

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