NIST fills the gaps in its smart-grid framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a draft of an updated framework of standards for developing a secure and interoperable intelligent energy distribution grid.

The document is the next step in an ongoing process of ensuring that utilities, manufacturers, equipment testers and regulators will be working on the same page in the development of the emerging national smart grid.

Release 2.0 of the Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability adds 22 new standards, specifications and guidelines to those recommended in the original release in January 2010 and includes an expanded view of the smart grid architecture.

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NIST began working on the road map in 2008. “The publication in January 2010 of the NIST Framework represented an important milestone and documented the progress made up to that time,” the new draft states.

The new release helps to fill gaps in standards identified in the first version, providing what the authors call a “solid foundation for a secure, interoperable smart grid.” But they add that “the smart grid will continually evolve as new requirements and technologies emerge,” and that development of a standards framework will be a continuing process.

The smart grid has been identified as a national priority to help create jobs, contribute to energy independence and curb greenhouse gas emissions by allowing the introduction of sustainable energy sources into the grid. 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. NIST was given the lead in developing needed technical standards for the United States by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The original framework identified 15 high-priority gaps for which new or revised standards and requirements were needed and created action plans with aggressive timelines for standards-setting organizations to address these gaps.

The new release includes:

  • An expanded smart grid architecture.
  • Several cybersecurity developments, including a Risk Management Framework to provide guidance on security practices.
  • The Interoperability Process Reference Manual, a new framework for testing the conformity of devices and systems to be connected to the grid.
  • Information on efforts to coordinate the U.S. smart grid standards effort with similar efforts in other parts of the world.
  • An overview of future areas of work, including electromagnetic disturbance and interference.

More than $4.5 billion has been made available for stimulate smart-grid development under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and as funded projects come to fruition NIST will use the experience and lessons of these programs to chart future needs for the framework. “A key objective of the NIST work is to create a self-sustaining, ongoing standards process that supports continuous innovation as grid modernization continues in the decades to come,” the document states.

Comments on the draft document should be made by Nov. 25 here.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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