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Powering Up America: Accelerating an Interoperable Smart Grid


A Smart Grid system would allow electricity users to connect directly with power suppliers via real-time, two-way communication technologies. Once implemented, such a system would dramatically improve the efficiency of America's power network and spur the use of renewable energy sources.

Credit: Shutterstock, copyright Photoroller


A smart electric power grid is a transformative networking technology, vital to achieving energy independence and a sustainable energy future. It will use digital technology to improve reliability, security and efficiency of the electric system: from large generation, through the delivery systems to electricity consumers and a growing number of distributed-generation and storage resources. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, NIST has "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 ..."

Collaborating with Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NIST is leading and coordinating public-private efforts to develop consensus-based interoperability and cybersecurity standards, which are essential to realizing the vision of the Smart Grid, a once-in-a-century opportunity.

Proposed NIST Program

In early 2009, NIST responded to the energy-related national priorities laid out by President Obama and Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by intensifying efforts to accelerate progress toward stakeholder consensus on Smart Grid standards. Under this initiative, NIST will work collaboratively to:

  • Develop a framework for interoperability of Smart Grid technologies, such as those supporting transmission and distribution of electricity, to ensure that appropriate standards and protocols are developed, evaluated, recommended, and implemented in a timely fashion;
  • Work with utility regulators, state governments, industry, non-profits and other stakeholder groups to create standardized performance tests and protocols to facilitate adoption of such standards; and
  • Develop new measurements, models, reference implementations, and interoperability testbeds for Smart Grid devices and systems to support the electric power industry.

Expected Impacts

By developing the underpinning measurement science and standards needed to ensure Smart Grid interoperability and robust, secure and efficient energy generation, storage, and distribution, NIST will help to:

  • Significantly reduce the amount of electricity generated from fossil fuel by enabling the integration of distributed renewable energy sources;
  • Enable commercialization and deployment of new Smart Grid technologies, a market estimated to be worth $70 billion by 2013; and
  • Improve international markets for U.S. energy products through incorporation of U.S.-developed technology in international standards.
Created August 18, 2009, Updated January 3, 2017