Kansas City International

E-Mon D-Mon Submeter Retrofit Solves Tenant Disputes & Cuts Costs at KCIA

kcia submeters to reduce energy costs and lower tenant complaintsKansas City International Airport managers use submeters to fairly allocate tenant electric bills; automatic meter reading (AMR) and billing improves tenant satisfaction while reducing operating costs.

This major airport complex in Kansas City, Missouri covers more than 10,000 acres, providing 71 boarding gates, 44 passenger-boarding bridges and three airline terminals. In 2006, almost 11 million visitors passed through Kansas City International's (KCI) common areas embracing more than one million square feet of floor space. Leased to a wide variety of tenants, including offices, aircraft repair facilities, food concessions, gift shops, lounges, baggage-handling departments and more, these rentals produce an annual income of approximately $70 million. The local electrical utility, Aquila, invoices KCI with a single electric bill of about $1 million per month, which was previously allocated to all airport tenants on a problematic cost-per-square-foot basis. This problem has since been equitably resolved to everyone's satisfaction, thanks to the installation of an E-Mon D-Mon electric submetering system.

Different Classes of Tenants Caused Billing Problems

Power is supplied to the airport complex via two 13.8 kV feeds with automatic switching for uninterrupted service. Four back-up generators provide power for tenant fleet maintenance, the fire station, airfield lighting and other mission-critical users requiring an extremely high degree of power continuity and reliability. the problem arose from the fact that power rates differ according to the class of user. For example, the FAA pays a premium for high-uptime back-up power as a hedge against a potential utility outage during a storm. The cost of locally generated power is higher then the normal utility rate paid by food services, newsstands and most other airport tenants. In the case of KCI, the industry-wide practice of billing energy usage on a square-foot basis was not only highly labor intensive, being performed manually, but provoked on-going questions about the procedure's basic fairness. Many smaller tenants balked at the idea of helping to defray the energy costs of the higher-end users, causing some to even demand proof of their own electrical usage before paying the rent.

Submeter Retrofit Seen as Solution

The need for a new electrical power monitoring and automated billing system became abundantly clear during KCI's $1.2 billion capital improvement that began in 2000. Despite the depth and breadth of the decade-long project, no explicit mandate for electrical submetering was included in the original proposal. Recognizing the need after the fact, KCI engineers and operations people were face with the challenge of implementing the much-needed system while staying within their original budget.

KCI is owned and operated by Kansas city Aviation Department, an enterprise fund department of the municipality of Kansas City. Since no general tax refunds are used to supplement KCI's revenue stream from its own tenants and users, the need to remain within tight budget limitations was paramount. Compounding the matter were all the procedural hoops for adding any new system to the original spec. As Burns & MacDonald, the main contractor, began work on the major projects, they became increasingly interested in retrofitting a full-featured submetering system. Answering the call was Langhorne, PA-based E-Mon, LLC, manufacturer of the well-known E-Mon D-Mon line of submetering products and services. E-Mon's Kansas City Rep, Pat Saviano of C & O Electric Sales, pulled out all the stops to provide in-depth educational seminars that absolutely convinced Burns & MacDonald and the KCI operations folks of the need for submetering.

Submetering Project Goals Defined

KCI, joined by M&M, urged Saviano's help in recommending a submetering system that would alleviate tenant objections to the existing general apportionment of the electric charges by individually tracking the electrical usage of each tenant. Enlisting the aid of the M.E. Group of Kansas City to prepare the submetering bid documents, the project goals were defined as:

  • Allocate power costs fairly to the tenants and reduce the costs associated with manual billing and tenant disputes
  • Ensure compliance with legislative mandates such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT.)

Pilot Project Tests Concept

In addition to providing the detailed information for the preparation of the engineering design, Saviano set up the initial pilot project using four meters and software to prove the viability of the concept. Pilot project results gave KCI operations and the consulting engineers the confidence to aggressively pursue the full submetering system implementation. French Gerleman, E-Mon's local electrical distributor, quoted the necessary equipment to R.F. Fisher Electrical Contracting who performed the install and start-up at the KCI site.

e-mon energy software and emon dmon meters

Full Project Details

The final design employed more than 100 Class 3000 E-Mon D-Mon meters communicating with the central monitoring location via the facility's Ethernet backbone. The system's E-Mon Energy software allowed KCI management to generate individual tenant bills that were no longer based on some arbitrary, intruistically unfair, measure of square footage. Instead, tenant bills were now based on actual power usage and allocated common areas. The major application was on the gates and jet bridges used by the airlines. Since that time, additional meters have been installed in KCI's consolidated rental car facility to track and allocate those costs as well.

System Results

Through accurate metering of actual energy usage, KCI's previous billing problems have disappeared. With the historical data that submetering provides, tenants can now see their actual energy usage, resulting in the complete elimination of customer complaints. One unanticipated side-benefit was the labor savings that KCI realized when processing monthly tenant invoices. Once an account is set up, the E-Mon Energy software quickly calculates the invoice for each tenant every month. Reports and spreadsheets are easily output through the software as a back-up for any detailed discussion with a tenant.

As for the second project goal, KCI operations are now equipped to meet federal regulatory mandates for energy monitoring.

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