I recently attended my first Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA) convention at the historic La Mansion del Rio Hotel, which sits right on the River Walk in downtown San Antonio. I found many of the general session presentations to be both valuable and interesting. However, one really piqued my interest. Jason Lin, vice president and chief engineer, GE Zenith Controls, Inc., provided an overview of an IEEE working group's effort to produce a uniform standard for the interconnection of distributed resources with electric power systems in his presentation, A New National Interconnect Standard for On-Site Generation. The original scope of IEEE Standard P1547 is to provide requirements relevant to the performance, operation, testing, safety considerations, and maintenance of the interconnection of distributed resources with electric power systems. Unfortunately, as is the case with most standards-making efforts, completing this task has proved much more difficult than originally anticipated.

The IEEE first approved this project in March 1999 and immediately placed it on a fast track schedule for early completion. However, after many draft revisions and failed ballots, the standard has yet to gain the approval of its balloting members, broken up into three groups — users, producers, and a general interest category. The user category is represented by large utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Co., American Electric Power, Consolidated Edison, Inc., and Entergy. Companies such as Caterpillar, ASCO, Siemens Westinghouse, Cummins, Basler Electric, and International Fuel Cells represent the producer category. The general interest category includes anyone who doesn't fall within the user or producer category.

Why has this standard failed to gain the much-needed approval of its balloting members? Because its' original scope was found to be too broad. Recognizing this flaw, the working group recently announced a revision to the scope of P1547 focusing on the mandatory, minimum technical requirements needed to assure a sound interconnection and removal of information like procedural requirements, application guidance, safety practices, specific DR-EPS applications, equipment-specific criteria, types of utility grids, operational aspects, and regulatory aspects. In addition, it's creating three new interconnection standards projects: P1589 Draft Standard for Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems; P1608 Draft Application Guide for IEEE Std. 1547; and a new standards project for the monitoring and control of distributed resources. The working group's Chair Richard DeBlasio, technology manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, reported a new P1547 draft would require the dissolution of the existing ballot group and the establishment of a new ballot group. The standard's writing group would also need to be expanded to maintain its balance according to IEEE voter categories. Hopefully, these new efforts to refine P1547 will soon result in consensus approval of this much-needed industry standard.

Development and approval of new distributed generation standards is critical to the continued safe and reliable operation of our nation's electric power infrastructure, but it's an enormous undertaking. I applaud those individuals who are working so hard to create these new standards for our industry.

And as for the rest of you, why don't you step up to the plate and help make this happen. I'm sure the working group would welcome you with open arms.