Sunday, April 24, 2011

NIST Issues New Smart Meter Guidelines to Prevent Obsolescence

My friends at the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel are doing their job right. Please take a long look at the standards being defined.

The governing board of the public-private Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) has voted in favor of a new standard and a set of guidelines to ensure future wireless communications will be smart grid worthy. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created the SGIP, a group of public and private organizations, to coordinate the development of consensus-based Smart Grid standards.

The SGIP identified Guidelines for Assessing Wireless Communications for Smart Grid Applications and Meter Upgradeability Standard as critical for delivering an energy-efficient, modern power grid with seamlessly interoperable parts. They are now among 17 other standards development projects called Priority Action Plans (PAPs).

SGIP Administrator Erich Gunther, says the two new PAPs are important for ensuring real-time communication, which will be a hallmark of the new grid. “The standards and guidelines resulting from PAP 0 and PAP 2 are crucial to ensuring that metering devices can be upgraded remotely and reliably, and that the sort of fast, efficient wireless communications typical today with cell phones becomes a part of the future electricity grid.”

Paul Molitor, Industry Director for Smart Grid at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, explains that PAP 0 aims to future-proof smart meters so they don’t become quickly obsolete. “More than 50 million houses across the country will need new meters for the Smart Grid to function, and PAP 0 will ensure that this substantial upfront investment of time and money is protected. Some state utilities have considered halting the deployment of the new meters because of uncertainty about upgrading the meters. PAP 0 addresses their concerns by making it possible to upgrade any meter as the standards evolve, and to do so remotely to boot.”

PAP 2 is a guideline that recommends the standards that will be necessary for wireless communications between all devices connected to the Smart Grid, including smart meters as well as components in power plants, substations, and transmission systems necessary to keep energy flowing among the many points on the grid.

NIST’s Nada Golmie notes, “Technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were not designed with Smart Grid in mind. What PAP 2 does is ensure that any technologies that we use – whether off-the-shelf or not – will provide the features the grid needs. We would like vendors and standard-setting organizations to become aware of the features a grid-worthy technology will have. We’re trying to help facilitate a conversation between technology developers and grid operators, to ensure they are all on the same page. It’s hard to do that without hard numbers about how devices must perform, and PAP 2 provides these numbers.”

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