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Standards Critical for Smart Grid Success

TMCnews Featured Article

September 14, 2011

Standards Critical for Smart Grid Success

By Rachel Ramsey, TMCnet Web Editor

As the smart grid continues to evolve, it is necessary for its standards to evolve as well. Standards are critical in order to achieve the interoperability that is crucial to a truly seamless smart grid.

According to a post on AT&T’s (News - Alert) Networking Exchange Blog, the smart grid attempts to predict and intelligently respond to the behavior and actions of all electric power users connected to it -- suppliers, consumers and those that do both -- in order to efficiently deliver reliable, economic, and sustainable electricity services.

Sensors and standards are important and critical to the success of a nationwide smart grid. Minimal standards increase the likelihood of outages due to the lack of knowledge of what is happening with the grid.

Attempting to connect millions of electric meters into the smart grid from many different vendors with minimal standards won’t work. Customers will be required to call in and report outages instead of the utility knowing it immediately.

Utilities used to focus primarily on smart metering, but as they move forward they are positioned to significantly alter the electric energy industry.

There will be many points on smart grids with two-way communications that sensor, monitor or measure electricity, and can send and receive information to utilities about the grid’s performance.

Standards are crucial to enabling utilities to work with third-party developers, device makers, cell phone companies and Internet companies -- all players to help create applications that are compelling for homeowners and renters to manage their electric consumption.

Without standards, consumers will not be able to manage the energy consumption of major appliances. They expect that their appliances will be able to send a message if something needs attending to, like a filter change or a failing freezer.

Companies involved in attempting to develop various standards for the smart grid include NIST, IEEE, FCC, DOE, PAP, PUCs, PSCs, NERC (News - Alert) and FERC.

NIST, the federal technology agency that works with the industry to develop and apply technology, measurement and standards, has developed a first version of its smart grid cybersecurity guidelines. The agency developed the guidelines for entities such as electric companies involved in implementing smart grid systems, and to provide guidance on how to securely implement such systems.

In related news, Smart Grid Update announced its first annual Smart Grid Distribution Automation Conference, taking place in Raleigh, N.C., on Nov. 2 and 3. Leading utilities like Northeast Utilities, Duke Energy (News - Alert), Alabama Power and Con-Ed will participate in the vent to discuss the latest developments in smart grid distribution automation. 

Rachel Ramsey is a TMCnet editorial assistant, contributing news items and feature articles on a variety of communications and technology topics. Rachel has previously worked in PR and communications at The Wriglesworth Consultancy, an award-winning London PR firm. She has also contributed to the creative services department at CBS 3 and The CW Philly in Philadelphia. To read more of Rachel's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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