April 9, 2009 By Blake Harris
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a contract to Palo Alto-based Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) to help it develop an interim "roadmap" for determining the architecture and initial key standards for an electric power "Smart Grid." This is an important step in the Obama Administration's plan to significantly upgade the power infrastructure for the 21st century.
$11 billion was included in the recent stimulus package to create a national Smart Grid that would harness IT to control and deliver electricity more efficiently, reliably and securely. Such a system, experts believe, would be more resilient and would better accommodate alternative sources of energy which may not deliver power at consistent levels.
Congress assigned NIST "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."
"The Smart Grid is a cornerstone of national efforts to achieve energy independence, save consumers money and curb greenhouse gas emissions," said NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher in a news release. "This contract is a significant step in the urgent effort to identify and develop standards that will ensure a reliable and robust Smart Grid."
Part of EPRI's task is to assist in identifying issues and priorities related to developing permanent interoperability standards. As well, EPRI - a non-profit organization that conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity -- will engage in consensus-building activities which they say will provide the basis for the initial slate of Smart Grid standards.
The NIST adds that it will soon announce a three-phase plan that will result in an end-of-year submission for approval of standards to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over interstate distribution and sales of electric power.
Photo Jordi Martorell. CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic