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NIST Announces Three-Phase Plan for Smart Grid Standards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a three-phase plan to expedite development of key standards for a Smart Grid, a nationwide network that uses information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely.

Smart Grid is a key component of the Obama Administration's commitment to moving the nation toward energy independence, and funding to spur the development process was included in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). NIST is charged with coordinating the development of standards for the project.

"The Smart Grid will create jobs and contribute to the national effort to achieve energy independence and facilitate environmental improvements," NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher said. "We are working with a sense of urgency to expedite the development of standards critical to ensuring a reliable and robust Smart Grid."

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 charges NIST with "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." NIST will combine part of its own appropriation from ARRA with $10 million from the Department of Energy's ARRA appropriation to carry out these responsibilities.

Interoperability standards are needed to ensure that software and hardware components from different vendors will work together seamlessly, while cybersecurity standards will protect the multi-system network against natural or human-caused disruptions.

NIST's three-phase approach includes:

  • engaging utilities, equipment suppliers, consumers, standards developers and other stakeholders to achieve consensus on Smart Grid standards;
  • launching a formal partnership to facilitate development of additional standards to address remaining gaps and integrate new technologies; and
  • developing a plan for testing and certification to ensure that Smart Grid equipment and systems conform to standards for security and interoperability.

By early fall, NIST expects to announce the Smart Grid architecture; priorities for interoperability and cybersecurity standards, an initial set of standards to support implementation; and plans to meet remaining standards needs.

The first in a series of workshops aimed at defining the interoperability standards for a smart electrical grid that optimizes energy efficiency and service reliability will be held April 28-29, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency at Reston Town Center, 1800 Presidents St., in Reston, Va. For more information and to register for the April 28-29 "Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Interim Roadmap Workshop" go to

NIST recently contracted with the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) to help the agency develop an interim report on Smart Grid architecture and a standards roadmap. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., EPRI is an independent, nonprofit, noncommercial organization that conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity. EPRI also will support consensus-building activities to create an initial slate of Smart Grid standards.

For additional information, see:

Released April 21, 2009, Updated January 8, 2018