Smart grid gets its first 6 standards

A panel of government and industry representatives has approved the first six interoperability standards to help guide the creation of an intelligent energy distribution grid.

The Catalog of Standards is being developed by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to fill technical gaps identified in the development of a smart-grid architecture.

The first documents address formats for the exchange of information on the grid, standards for charging electric vehicles and requirements for upgrading smart electric meters.

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The catalog is pulling together the products of a number of industry standards organizations to ensure that manufacturers and developers are working on the same page as the nation’s electric grid is upgraded to meet 21st century needs, said NIST’s George Arnold, national coordinator for smart-grid interoperability.

“Essentially it’s a guidance document,” Arnold said. The first documents address five of 19 issues identified in a Priority Action Plans document by grid experts as the most crucial. “This is going to be an ongoing process,” he said. “There is a lot of work ahead.”

The smart grid has been identified as a priority for the nation’s economic recovery, with the promise of creating jobs, contributing to energy independence and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. It would use intelligent networking and automation to better control the flow and delivery of electricity to consumers, enabling a two-way flow of electricity and information between the power plant and the appliance, and points in between.

With money for developing and fielding new electric grid technology becoming available with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, industry requires standards for interoperability and security of the system. The Energy Independence and Security Act gave the Energy Department the overall lead for the program and assigned to NIST the job of developing a framework of standards and protocols to ensure interoperability and security.

The first version of the Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards was released by NIST in January 2010. It identified 75 existing technical standards that were applicable to the Smart Grid. A second version of the framework, now in draft form, includes 83 applicable standards, some under development by standards organizations.

The missing standards are being developed and pulled together by the interoperability panel. The panel consists of more than 675 public- and private-sector organizations with nearly 1,800 individual members.

Although the panel does not have regulatory or enforcement power, the breadth of the membership and the high threshold for standards approval (75 percent of membership) are expected to ensure widespread adoption of the standards. The first six standards were approved by more than 90 percent of the panel.

The approved standards are:

  • Internet Protocol Suite for the Smart Grid, to enable grid devices to exchange information. The suite includes more than 150 existing protocols developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force.
  • Energy usage information standards, a data model for the “Internet friendly” exchange of information between energy suppliers and customers.
  • Standards for electric vehicle plugs, describing the physical connector used in charging vehicles on the grid, developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
  • Use cases for communication between plug-in vehicles and the grid, defining the type of information to be exchanged by the two sides so that vehicles can be effectively and efficiently charged, and costs charged to the owner, also developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
  • Requirements for upgrading household smart meters, which are replacing the older generation of meters and must be future-proofed to ensure against obsolescence during their long lifetimes. Developed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
  • Guidelines for assessing standards for wireless communications, a list of requirements that reference existing standards and tools for assessing compliance.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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