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Board of New Smart Grid Panel 'Boots Up'— Key Position Filled and Next Steps Assigned

GAITHERSBURG, Md.— The three-week-old Smart Grid Interoperability Panel's (SGIP's) governing board appointed Steve Widergren, a principal engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as plenary chair of the panel at its first meeting held Dec. 8-9. Additionally, the SGIP, a unique public-private partnership with more than 400 member organizations, began laying plans for the new panel's work to support the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) effort to coordinate the expedited development of technical standards for the nation's Smart Grid.

The SGIP was launched in mid-November by NIST as a collaborative means for private and public sector stakeholders to provide input to accomplishing a key goal of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007: building a secure and interoperable smart electric grid, an essential component of an envisioned clean energy economy. Under EISA, NIST is responsible for coordinating development of a "framework . . . to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems."

Widergren, who has served as administrator of the GridWise Architecture Council and as Smart Grid interoperabilty and standards coordinator for the Department of Energy, will organize and preside over meetings of the entire SGIP. He also will appoint the chairs of the panel's two standing committees—one on Smart Grid architecture and the other on interoperability testing and conformance. 

"Advancing interoperability as a strategic Smart Grid enabler is a cause worthy of service," Widergren said. "To be selected as the first SGIP plenary chair is an honor I accept with humility for the task before us and with respect for the great progress made by the NIST team with all stakeholders over the last several months, culminating in the establishment of an impressive SGIP governing board."

Now numbering 23 members (18 of whom participated in the meeting at NIST), the governing board prioritizes the work of the SGIP, and it will consult regularly with standards development organizations, user groups and others directly involved in Smart Grid standardization efforts. The board will coordinate resources necessary to carry out finalized SGIP action plans in efficient and effective manner.

"The collective brain power and experience of this governing board bodes well for the future of ongoing Smart Grid standardization efforts," said George Arnold, NIST's national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability, who serves as a non-voting member. "I also was impressed by the dedication and spirit of cooperation demonstrated by this diverse group."

Members also will serve as liaisons to domestic and international organizations engaged in or affected by standardization efforts relevant to modernization of electric power systems.

Overall, the SGIP, which consists of organizations spread among 22 categories of Smart Grid stakeholders, has three primary functions:

  • Oversee activities intended to expedite the development of interoperability and cyber security specifications by standards setting organizations;

  • Provide technical guidance to facilitate development of standards for a secure, interoperable Smart Grid; and

  • Specify testing and certification requirements necessary to assess the interoperability Smart Grid-related equipment.

Other governing board business included initiating a call for candidates to fill the four open stakeholder-category positions on the board: electric transportation industry stakeholders; municipal utilities; electricity and financial market traders (including aggregators); and venture capital. The call for candidates will be posted at:

The board also began making preparations to provide input to future versions of the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0, and a second draft of a companion document, DRAFT NISTIR 7628 Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements.

The EnerNex Corp. serves as SGIP administrator under a NIST-awarded contract enabled by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information on the SGIP, go to

Released December 14, 2009, Updated February 1, 2023