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The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has 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), 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.

This report 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.

“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, NIST’s national coordinator for smart-grid interoperability. “This report is an important step forward in that process.”

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, NIST has the primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart-grid devices and systems.

NIST is working closely with the Department of Energy, the lead agency in the federal smart-grid effort.

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 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 road map for developing new or revised standards needed to realize a 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 road map.

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.

To learn more about the report, visit NIST’s Web site.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology

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