First round of interoperability standards for Smart Grid announced

Release 1.0 of Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework available for comment

An initial set of 16 existing technical standards for control system interoperability and security has been identified for use in Smart Grid development.

The list represents a consensus of government and industry stakeholders of what is needed to create a Smart Grid and is the first step in an aggressive three-phase program by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop key technical standards for an intelligent power distribution grid by the end of the year.

NIST said the list is a work in progress and that other existing standards could be added. Additional standards will be created as needed.

The list was announced by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke after a White House meeting of industry leaders. They also announced significant increases in stimulus funding for Smart Grid development and demonstration programs.

The Smart Grid program was established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and the program has been identified as an important element of the Obama administration’s economic recovery program with the promise of creating jobs, contributing to energy independence and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The grid would use intelligent networking and automation to better control the flow and delivery of electricity to consumers.

It is “a fully automated power delivery network that monitors and controls every customer and node, ensuring a two-way flow of electricity and information between the power plant and the appliance, and all points in between,” according to the Energy Department's National Vision for Electricity’s Next 100 Years. “Its distributed intelligence, coupled with broadband communications and automated control systems, enables real-time market transactions and seamless interfaces among people, buildings, industrial plants, generation facilities and the electric network.”

With money for developing and fielding new electricity grid technology becoming available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the industry now needs standards for interoperability and security.

The Energy Independence and Security Act made DOE the overall leader of the Smart Grid program and assigned NIST the job of developing a framework of standards and protocols to ensure interoperability and security. Final standards will be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has regulatory authority over the interstate industry.

DOE has transferred $10 million for standards development to NIST.

NIST has outlined a three-phase approach to standards development:

  • Develop a consensus among utilities, equipment suppliers, consumers, standards developers and other stakeholders on needed standards, and produce a Smart Grid architecture, an initial set of standards to support implementation and plans for developing remaining standards by early fall.
  • Launch formal partnerships to develop the remaining needed standards.
  • Develop a program for testing and certification to ensure that Smart Grid equipment and systems comply with standards.

The existing standards identified for inclusion in Release 1.0 of the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework cover areas that include advanced metering, building automation, power generation and distribution, IT security, and home networking. Comments on the proposed list can be sent to NIST at

Chu also announced that DOE has increased the maximum awards for Smart Grid programs under the recovery act. The maximum available under the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program increased from $20 million to $200 million, and from $40 million to $100 million for demonstration projects.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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