The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued an initial list of standards, a preliminary cyber security strategy, and other elements of a framework to support transforming the nation’s aging electric power system into an interoperable “smart grid,” 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 to greatly improve reliability, flexibility and efficiency of the entire grid. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) set development of the smart grid as a national policy goal, and it assigned NIST the “primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems.”

The new report presents the first release of a smart grid interoperability framework and 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 cyber security strategy and associated requirements.

A draft of today’s report was issued on September 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 and 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’s national coordinator for smart grid interoperability.

Comments on the draft report can be found at http://collaborate.nist.gov/twiki-sggrid/bin/view/SmartGrid/IKBFramework. More details on the new report are available in the NIST news announcement “NIST Issues First Release of Framework for smart grid Interoperability” at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/smartgrid_011910.html. A copy of the report can be downloaded from www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/smartgrid_interoperability_final.pdf