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NIST Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Newsletter - October 2018

NIST Holds First of Four Workshops on Smart Grid Interoperability

On September 12, NIST convened the first of four regional workshops on the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Framework, Release 4.0, getting input from stakeholders from across the electricity industry. The one-day workshop was held at the Georgia Public Service Commission in Atlanta, Georgia, sponsored by NIST and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Mark Lauby, Senior Vice President and Chief Reliability Officer for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) gave keynote remarks, and addressed the importance of fuel security to grid reliability and resilience, stressing three considerations: 

  • Over dependence on a single type of resource is a risk.
  • Diverse technology and fuel mix strengthens the bulk power system.
  • Interoperability is essential for optimizing all interconnections between different systems, contributing to a resilient bulk power system.

Lauby also emphasized the need to integrate the distributed energy resources (DERs) that are rapidly growing elements in the power system. DERs will have major impacts on ramping, frequency and voltage support, operator observability and cybersecurity. Standards and interoperability are important for this integration.

Avi Gopstein, Manager of NIST’s Smart Grid Program, described updates to the Smart Grid Conceptual Model, including significant changes within the generation, distribution, and customer domains. He described four communication pathways scenarios. These are scenarios illustrating key communication interfaces for various architectures, which include new technologies such as DERs and microgrids.

The Framework addresses how the revised conceptual model and communication pathways scenarios can represent the evolution of grid operations, economics, and cybersecurity. The Framework also introduces the interoperability profile to enable system communications, and underscores the important role of testing and certification in maximizing the value of grid investments.

A panel of leaders from different segments of the electricity industry also spoke about the relationship of interoperability to their mission.  Speakers included:

  • Jamie Barber, Georgia Public Service Commission (Public Utility Commissions)
  • John McDonald, General Electric Grid Solutions (Solution Provider and Vendors)
  • Bill Colavecchio, Underwriters Laboratories (Testing and Certification Organizations)
  • Howard Smith, Southern Company (Utilities)

The panel emphasized the importance of interoperability; the challenge of quantifying interoperability benefits, both intended and unanticipated; the need for flexibility, as different locales prioritize specific challenges; and the essential role of cybersecurity and data privacy.

Jason Allnutt, program manager for the IEEE Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP), provided an update on IEEE 1547-2018 and described the changing roles—and interconnection and interoperability requirements—for DERs in power systems. (See ICAP’s actions with IEEE-1547)

Discussions focused on trends that are rapidly transforming the electricity sector, including:

  • Increasing numbers, types, and uses of DERs
  • Increasing availability of energy information and services for consumers
  • Decreasing costs of key technologies, like solar cells, inverters, sensors, and big data analytics
  • Increasing frequency of extreme weather conditions affecting reliability and resiliency

A second regional workshop followed in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 27. Insights from these regional workshops and two more will guide development of the Smart Grid Interoperability Framework 4.0.  A final report on the regional workshops is expected in December. NIST will release a draft of Framework 4.0 for public comment early in 2019.

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NIST Invites Smart Grid Stakeholders to San Francisco, CA and Warwick, RI Workshops

NIST, in partnership with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners will conduct two more, one-day, regional workshops at Public Utility Commissions in San Francisco, California, October 16 2018 and Warwick, Rhode Island, November 29 2018.  Workshop information and registration are available online.

Like the two previous workshops, their purpose is to get regional inputs on modernization of America's power grid, and the needed interoperability as ever-more energy resources and technologies are incorporated into local power distribution systems. NIST’s task is to work with stakeholders to identify standards that will enable these technologies to work together in a nationwide power grid, capable of meeting future demands.

Each workshop considers a conceptual model for the region. To drive discussion, attendees examine four proposed scenarios – or high-level architectures – for power generation, transmission, and distribution. The four scenarios differ in the level of deployments and roles for new smart grid technologies. A panel of regional stakeholders address the most important interfaces, with attendees sharing their unique interoperability concerns through facilitated discussions.

Additionally, the workshops give those present a common framework from which to discuss evolving system architectures, functions, and economics.  This common perspective is a useful foundation for communications between utilities, regulators, technology providers, and customers as each of them contribute to grid modernization.

As mentioned, these regional workshops inform development of NIST's Smart Grid Interoperability Framework Version 4.0, which will be released in 2019.

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NIST to Host Smart Grid Cybersecurity Workshop, Stakeholders Invited

NIST will host a Smart Grid Interoperability Framework and Cybersecurity Workshop on November 13-14, 2018 at the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCOE) in Rockville, MD.  The event will provide an overview of key Framework themes and feedback received from the regional workshops (see above), and then examine critical cybersecurity issues for the grid.  Cybersecurity topics will include risk categories and profiles, performance impacts of cybersecurity controls in emerging communications architectures, and lessons the smart grid community can learn from other sectors.  The workshop will include several panel discussions and breakout sessions, where participants will be able to provide feedback to NIST on critical issues affecting the future of grid cybersecurity.  A registration link and logistical details are available on NIST's workshop webpage. A detailed agenda and read-ahead material are forthcoming.

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Standards Published for Microgrid Controllers

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published 2030.7-2017, IEEE Standard for the Specification of Microgrid Controllers and 2030.8-2018, IEEE Standard for the Testing of Microgrid. Essentially, these provide standards for mechanisms that control a microgrid, a localized group of electricity sources that can operate with or independent of the main grid. 

  • IEEE Standard for the Specification of Microgrid Controllers (2030.7-2017), defines the minimum requirements for a basic microgrid controller, irrespective of a microgrid's application and environment.
  • IEEE 2030.8 Standard for Testing Microgrid Controllers (2030.8-2018) defines the testing scenarios and metrics for microgrid controllers, based on verifiable and quantifiable performance.

NIST’s Allen Hefner, Geza Joos of McGill University, and Jim Reilly of Reilly Associates  worked with the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel and the IEEE to accelerate completion of these standards, reducing development time from five to three years.

Standardization facilitates adoption of microgrid concepts by  reducing deployment times and costs for distribution system integration, and enabling interoperability among devices and systems.

This standardization comes at a time when the microgrid market is growing dramatically, with more than $10 billion expected to be invested in U.S. microgrids over the next five years.

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Privacy, Cybersecurity Key in Smart Cities; NIST and Homeland Security Partner on Challenge

Designed-in privacy and cybersecurity are essential in the development of Internet of Things concepts for smart cities and communities. That's the finding of the Global City Teams Challenge, or GCTC, a NIST collaborative effort with industrial, academic, and federal, state, and local government partners to develop smart cities. To identify and highlight best practices for cybersecurity and privacy, NIST and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate are partnering on the Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge (SC3).

To help address the challenge, smart city stakeholders are invited to two events:

  • Meeting in San Jose, California, October 3, 2018: Hosted by SC3’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Advisory Committee for secure cities and communities. The meeting will be co-located with the Cybersecurity Symposium for Smart Cities, focusing on the role of small and medium businesses and governments in protecting data and privacy. Nearly 500 are expected to attend the symposium. Details about registration and the agenda are available online.
  • Workshop, NIST campus Gaithersburg, MD, October 29-30, 2018: Hosted by SC3's Cybersecurity and Privacy Advisory Committee and GCTC’s  Public Safety Supercluster. The workshop is free. Registration is required by October 22, 2018.  Details about workshop registration and the agenda are available online.

The first day will focus on public safety, community resilience, communications and disaster/emergency management. Members of the Public Safety SuperCluster and related Action Clusters, as well as all interested parties, are invited. Participants present updates on their projects and share experiences in building partnerships for public safety.

The second day will focus on cybersecurity and privacy. The goal is to identify challenges and define approaches for incorporating cybersecurity and privacy in smart city applications. Speakers will include Ron Ross, NIST Fellow, and officials from DHS.

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Workshop Addresses Smart Technologies for Agriculture and Rural Areas

Global City Teams Challenge's Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster conducted a workshop at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, September 6-7, 2018. Over 80 participants shared ideas on:

  • Wireless testbeds for smart agriculture and rural broadband connectivity.
  • Smart technology for moving food, regionally, from producer and consumer
  • Business accelerators for smart farming
  • Advanced “wearables” for diabetes control
  • Platforms for opioid response
  • Blockchain for telehealth credentialing

The workshop generated new action clusters to develop blueprints for best practices to advance smart agriculture. All presentation materials can be downloaded here. The agenda with links to recorded videos can be found here.

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NIST Workshop Conducted on “Reasoning About IoT Trustworthiness”

How trustworthy will an Internet of Things be, in terms of its security, privacy, safety, reliability and resilience? A NIST workshop held at its Gaithersburg, MD campus, September 13, 2018, considered methods and technologies needed to determine the trustworthiness of the Internet of Things, particularly regarding users' expectations.  

The workshop gained an understanding of the concerns about the trustworthiness of an  Internet of Things/cyber-physical systems. It also got perspectives on methods and technologies that could help determine trustworthiness.

Participants were experts from financial, information, and industrial technology sectors, as well as, academia and federal government. The workshop featured four panels, with research presented on NIST's cyber-physical systems framework, modeling, and formalized reasoning about Internet of Things/cyber-physical systems. The panels were followed by open discussions on the implications for trustworthiness and integrating independently-constructed systems into a single system.

Copies of the presentations will be available soon on the workshop webpage. For more information, contact Dr. Edward Griffor at edward.griffor [at] (edward[dot]griffor[at]nist[dot]gov), or (301) 975-4743.

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NIST Releases “Universal CPS Environment for Federation BETA”

In a September 14 webinar, NIST released the Universal CPS Environment for Federation (UCEF) BETA. Presentation slides are online.

The release incorporates lessons learned in early use and adds several substantial components to the UCEF — LabVIEW, GridlabD, and Courses of Action, or COA. These are in addition to native Java and C++ applications. The BETA version also features a universal gateway component that was developed to facilitate integration of domain-specific tools used in cyber-physical systems.  

Beginning October 18, webinars will be held on the third Thursday of each month, at 12 p.m. Eastern time. To join the webinar, go to To join by telephone, call (408) 650-3131 and use access 32557933#.

UCEF meets an important need. Cyber-physical systems contain co-engineered, interacting networks of physical and computational components from different domains. Each domain -- smart grid, smart cities, smart manufacturing, etc. -- has technologies and simulation engines tailored to its needs. Cyber-physical system experimentation, therefore, often requires the integration of domain-specific tools into a common co-simulation platform.

UCEF is an open-source toolset designed to be integrative, reproducible, scalable, and usable, thereby addressing various challenges and concerns that currently limit cyber-physical systems experimentation and research. UCEF is a self-contained virtual machine that can be mounted on any computing platform.

The UCEF webpage provides an overview of UCEF. Downloading the UCEF tool set provides more technical details. To become part of the testbed community and learn how to use UCEF, visit the UCEF Collaborative Site and join the ucef+subscribe [at] (UCEF Mail List).

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Created November 1, 2018