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Smart Grid Testing and Certification


The Smart Grid Testing and Certification Project provides overall coordination and leadership of NIST technical activities in working with industry to support standards-based interoperability test programs that will accelerate smart grid deployments and ensure interoperability. The smart grid is extremely complex and is comprised of many systems within systems, which are owned and operated by thousands of entities. These systems must be able to communicate and work together to achieve the full benefits of the smart grid. Defined standards and robust testing regimes will be required to ensure communications and interoperability among these systems. Currently, very few smart grid standards have associated industry recognized test programs, and those programs that exist are primarily conformance-based and are limited in scope relative to end to end interoperability. Therefore, this project seeks to incubate and develop new programs, as well as engaging with industry stakeholders to assure that new test programs will help to enable interoperability and support new technology adoption.


Objective:  To accelerate the development of new test programs and improve existing test programs for smart grid interoperability and security by utilizing the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel testing and certification framework, and demonstrating benefits of testing and certification to end users and regulators by 2016.

What is the new technical idea? The smart grid is comprised of over 3,200 utilities and includes many systems within each utility that must work together across the entire electric grid. This interoperation is required to enable full functionality of the smart grid and to derive all of its benefits. Test programs will help ensure that interoperability is achieved in new smart grid deployments and also save utilities costs and shorten time for deployments. Although over one hundred standards have been identified in the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Version 2 [1] (NIST Framework 2.0) as supporting smart grid implementation, the availability of industry testing and certification programs for these standards is at a very early stage, with few standards supported by programs.   

The approach of this project is to collaborate with the smart grid ecosystem to accelerate the development and adoption of new required smart grid test programs. Establishment and operation of test programs can be costly and human resource intensive. Thus, a key element of this project is to identify priorities of required test programs to support smart grid deployments.   

In addition, new test programs require demand drivers to assure broad industry support and adoption. This project will include an outreach effort with utilities to educate them on test program benefits, which will drive demand for new and existing test programs. It will provide insight to understanding the opportunities, industry support, and potential barriers for these new test programs, as well as provide collaboration with the Smart Grid ecosystem to develop demand drivers for the creation and continued operation of these new test programs.   

What is the research plan?  The majority of the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Project performed by the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office staff will collaborate and leverage resources and expertise of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) 2.0, particularly the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee (SGTCC) through key SGIP and SGTCC leadership roles.   

The key aspect of the research plan is to facilitate and accelerate the development of new smart grid test programs, and where practical, to ensure these programs are based on the SGIP Testing and Certification Framework including the Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM), a guide that can be used by Interoperability Testing and Certification Authority (ITCA) to set up test programs. This research plan leverages the SGTCC Test Program prioritization effort, currently under way, which is expected to produce a preliminary priority list from the SGTCC by the end of September 2013. The first phase of this element of the research plan is to validate the proposed priority list by the smart grid ecosystem.  The next phase is to assess the viability of these top priority test programs along with identification of gaps and opportunities for program creation and buy in by the smart grid community. This can be achieved through collaboration and outreach efforts with the smart grid ecosystem.   

Further, the research plan calls for an establishment of an SGIP Priority Action Plan (PAP) proposal of a top identified testing priority for approval by the SGIP Board of Directors. This action plan will be used to define the requirements to work with industry to develop a new smart grid test program. In addition, this action will drive further industry attention to testing need and buy in for new smart grid test program development. The research plan also provides for collaboration with defined industry groups to establish test programs based on the established smart grid test program priorities as agreed to by industry.   

In order for new smart grid test programs to be sustainable, user demand for these programs must exist in order to fund and support the operation of these programs. As such, industry outreach and advocacy for these test programs is essential. This effort will demonstrate the value of testing programs and efficiencies in the adoption of common practices that minimize the need for multiple customized programs. It will demonstrate how broadly accepted programs help to drive down costs for all stakeholders and accelerate availability of advanced products that are deployment ready.   

The plan maintains support for the ongoing activities within the SGTCC with an emphasis on the continued evaluation of the SGIP Catalog of Standards (COS) entries to ensure these standards have associated test programs where needed. This will bring further attention to the need for new test programs.   

A new initiative is the creation of an SGIP Catalog of Test Programs. This catalog will provide purchasers of smart grid products and systems a reference guide to available test programs that follow SGTCC guidelines. The intent is to encourage purchasers to require that their vendors utilize these listed test programs, and if none are available, require their vendors to establish new programs to support their purchases, thereby building demand drivers for test programs.  


Major Accomplishments:

Outcomes: Recent outcomes of significance from this project include:
  • Commitments from existing and emerging test programs to implement SGTCC recommendations. An example is the Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) Alliance test program that became the first program to formally apply for a program review with a result of being the first program to be designated on the SGTCC Program List. Other programs in consideration are UCAIug IEC 61850, UCAIug Green Button, MultiSpeak, National Electrical Manufacture Association (NEMA), Utility Smart Network Assess Port (U-SNAP) Alliance, Consortium for Smart Energy Profile (SEP) 2.0 Interoperability.
  • Engagement with utility testing specialists to develop a test prioritization information gathering and companion white paper that will provide a foundation for the evaluation of the top priority smart grid testing needs requiring new initiatives. 
  • Release of the first set of SGTCC standards reviews that analyze COS entries for their testing attributes and readiness to support industry test programs. These analyses are provided as a part of the information package made available to SGIP participants for their use in selecting and implementing standards. 
  • A development guide that provides support to emerging test programs in their development of a program, and once launched, operational guidance.