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NIST issues first release of framework for smart grid interoperability

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued an initial list of standards, a preliminary cybersecurity strategy, and other elements of a framework to support transforming the aging electric power system in the US into an interoperable 'Smart Grid'.

An interoperable 'Smart Grid' is a key component of the Obama administration's energy plan and its strategy for American innovation.

By integrating digital computing and communication technologies and services with the power-delivery infrastructure, the Smart Grid will enable bidirectional flows of energy and two-way communication and control capabilities. A range of new applications and capabilities will result.

Anticipated benefits range from real-time consumer control over energy usage, to significantly increased reliance on solar and other sources of clean renewable energy. This would greatly improve the reliability, flexibility, and efficiency of the entire grid.

The new report presents the first release of a Smart Grid interoperability framework, and a roadmap for its further development. It contains:

  • A conceptual reference model to facilitate design of an architecture for the Smart Grid overall and for its networked domains.
  • An initial set of 75 standards identified as applicable to the Smart Grid.
  • Priorities for additional standards – revised or new – to resolve important gaps.
  • Action plans under which designated standards-setting organizations will address these priorities.
  • And an initial Smart Grid cybersecurity strategy and associated requirements.

A draft of the new report was issued on Septmber 24, 2009 for public review and comments. More than 80 individuals and organizations submitted comments.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is charged with instituting rulemaking proceedings. It is also responsible for establishing the standards and protocols necessary to ensure Smart Grid functionality and interoperability in interstate transmission of electric power and in regional and wholesale electricity markets.

However, some of the standards listed in the NIST report are still under development, and some others, such as those already used voluntarily by industry, may not warrant adoption by FERC or other regulators.

'NIST is working closely with FERC and state utility regulators, so that we can coordinate development of additional technical information on individual standards to support their evaluation and potential use for regulatory purposes,' says George Arnold, NIST national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability.

Comments on the draft report can be found on the NIST Smart Grid Collaboration Site.

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