The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md., recently released for public review a report that identifies issues and proposes priorities for developing technical standards and an architecture for a U.S. Smart Grid. The nearly 300-page report, developed and delivered to NIST by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, Calif., is part of the first phase of NIST’s three-phase plan, announced in April, to expedite development of key standards for the Smart Grid. The report is available on the NIST Smart Grid Web site. NIST will accept public comments on the report for 30 days after the publication of an upcoming notice in the Federal Register announcing the report’s availability.

“Widely adopted interoperability standards will enable integration, effective cooperation, and secure two-way communication among the many networked elements of a smart electric power grid,” says George Arnold, national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability at NIST. “This report is an important step forward in that process.”

Earlier this year, NIST awarded a contract to EPRI for assistance in developing the standards framework. EPRI technical experts have compiled and distilled recommendations from a variety of Smart Grid stakeholders, including technical contributions taken from two EPRI-facilitated, two-day public workshops. The EPRI report also incorporates contributions from six expert working groups established by NIST in 2008 and a cybersecurity coordination task group established in 2009.

NIST will use the EPRI report in drafting the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework. The NIST document will: describe a high-level architecture; identify an initial set of key standards; and provide a roadmap for developing new or revised standards needed to realize the Smart Grid. Release 1.0 of the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework is planned to be available in September.

A third public EPRI-sponsored Smart Grid interoperability-standards workshop will be held in early August to engage standards-development organizations in responding to unaddressed, high-priority needs identified in the draft standards roadmap. Ultimately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) determines whether sufficient consensus has been reached to implement final standards and protocols necessary for Smart Grid functionality and interoperability. NIST’s role is to identify and submit to FERC recommendations for the final product. As a non-regulatory agency, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.