The Department of Commerce rolled out a list of 77 initial standards (PDF) meant to make Smart Grid technologies more interoperable. One of the biggest challenges confronting the move toward a cleaner, more efficient electrical grid in the U.S. is that all of the devices, meters, wireless networks and software platforms created by an endless array of companies need to be able to communicate seamlessly with one another. This list is the first major attempt by the government to make sure this happens fast.
The agency charged with this goliath task is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which has put out a draft of a report outlining 31 standards that will contribute directly to the formation of the Smart Grid, and 46 that are indirectly related. The recurring theme that ties them all together is security. Discussed in detail at a workshop at the GridWeek conference in Washington, D.C., the standards were mostly devised to defend against hacker attacks and other privacy violations that could threaten the Smart Grid’s wireless, open infrastructure.
In order to come up with the recent standards, NIST hosted three workshops with more than 1,500 Smart Grid stakeholders. And, as if this wasn’t enough, the organization has opened the draft of its list for public and industry feedback for the next 30 days. By the end of the year, a final draft will be pitched to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — which has the power to make the standards law as part of energy legislation passed in 2007.
The preliminary list of standards includes a lot of incredibly technical specifications. More immediately relevant to utilities and consumers, an official mandate would require all smart meters that are being installed to be easily and quickly upgradeable, would force everyone in the business to adopt the same definitions for pricing and devices, would establish consistency among wireless communications systems, and require electric storage solutions and electric vehicles to be interoperable with existing Smart Grid technology.
All of this is included under the banner of “Phase 1″ of standards adoption. A second phase will follow, creating a Smart Grid Interoperability Panel to continue rolling out important standards filling the gaps between the many companies and devices involved. A third phase will then commence to test all of the standards in practice and certify companies and technology that have successfully adopted them. NIST anticipates that measures coming out of this process will be implemented by the end of 2010.
VentureBeat is hosting GreenBeat, the seminal executive conference on the Smart Grid, on Nov. 18-19, featuring keynotes from Nobel Prize winner Al Gore and Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr. Get your early-bird tickets for $495 before Sept. 30 at GreenBeat2009.com.