US Commerce Secretary Has Plan for Smart Grid Interoperability

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke this week unveiled an accelerated plan for developing standards to transform the U.S. power distribution system into a secure, more efficient and environmentally friendly Smart Grid and create clean-energy jobs.

Produced by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the report identifies 80 initial standards that will enable the interconnected devices and systems that will make up the nationwide Smart Grid to communicate and work with each other.

The standards will support interoperability of all the various pieces of the system—ranging from large utility companies down to individual homes and electronic devices. 

Smart grid technologies will figure largely into the implementation of renewable energy technologies both as central and distributed generation system as they will allow systems to be easily ramped up or down and they will allow power to be sent where it’s needed from remote renewable projects.

The report also lists a set of 14 “priority action plans” that address the most important gaps in the initial standard set.

“To use an analogy from the construction world, this report is like a designer’s first detailed drawing of a complex structure,” Locke said. “It presents a high-level conceptual model to ensure that everyone is on the same page before moving forward to develop more detailed, formal Smart Grid architectures. This high-level model is critical to help plan where to go next.”

According to George Arnold, NIST’s National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability, finalizing the standards will ensure that the grid transformation goes both smoothly and rapidly—a priority of the Obama Administration. About $4.5 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds to the Department of Energy also are slated for Smart Grid demonstration projects.

The draft report, NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0, incorporates input from more than 1,500 industry, government and other stakeholders who have participated in the NIST framework development process.

Following a 30-day public review and comment on the draft, NIST will finalize the Framework document, which is the culmination of the first phase of NIST’s three-phase approach to develop Smart Grid standards.

For more information on NIST’s work with Smart Grid, click here.

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