NIST’s Smart Grid Standards


 “Standards are like toothbrushes… everyone agrees we need to use them, but no one wants to use anyone else’s”.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST was founded in 1901 and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major handicap to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time—a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of England, Germany, and other economic rivals.

I think it is fair to say that NIST was successful in placing the US at the forefront of technology, but there are certainly many new challenges where NIST can still play a critical role. Perhaps the most important of these is the nation’s need for a Smart Grid.

George Arnold, National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability at NIST pointed out that, “Today’s electric power grid ranks as the single greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century. And tomorrow’s Smart Grid will be one of the greatest achievements of the 21st century”. Energy Dimensions wants to do all that it can to help make this prediction come true.

Recognizing that the development of a Smart Grid for the US is going to require standards for interoperability, Mr. Arnold and his team at NIST have established a website dedicated to disseminating information to the public. Whether you are a consumer, engineer, or policymaker, this website can help you learn about and participate in the Smart Grid and in the development of the interoperable standards that will make it possible.

Recently, NIST published the Final Smart Grid ‘Framework 2.0’ Document. The press release notes that,  “The 2.0 Framework lays out a plan for transforming the nation’s aging electric power system into an interoperable Smart Grid—a network that will integrate information and communication technologies with the power-delivery infrastructure, enabling two-way flows of energy and communications”.

“Release 2.0 represents a significant update to the NIST Release 1.0 Framework,” said George Arnold, the National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability at NIST. “In addition to the comments received through the public review, we vetted the draft framework in advance with the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) and other groups. The document reflects the consensus-based process the SGIP uses to coordinate development of Smart Grid standards.”

Some of the new items covered in the ‘Framework 2.0” Document include:

  • a new chapter on the roles of the SGIP;
  • an expanded view of the architecture of the Smart Grid;
  • a number of developments related to ensuring cybersecurity for the Smart Grid, including a Risk Management Framework to provide guidance on security practices;
  • a new framework for testing the conformity of devices and systems to be connected to the Smart Grid—the Interoperability Process Reference Manual;
  • information on efforts to coordinate the Smart Grid standards effort for the United States with similar efforts in other parts of the world; and
  • an overview of future areas of work, including electromagnetic disturbance and interference, and improvements to SGIP processes.

Congratulations to NIST for taking a leadership role in this effort. When one calculates the return on investment twenty years from now I suspect it will be extremely impressive.


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