The governing board of the public-private Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) has voted in favor of a new standard important for two-way data communications between utilities and their customers, bringing the next-generation "smart" electrical power grid a step closer to reality.
The board voted on a foundational standard, an "energy usage data model," for the information used to communicate between utilities and the customer, and the way in which that information is organized. This standard is one of a number considered critical in creating an energy-efficient, modern power grid with seamlessly interoperable parts.
The data standard was developed by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) at the request of the SGIP and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). By enabling utilities and customer equipment to exchange detailed information about electricity usage in a consistent format, the standard will make it easier for consumers to track their electricity usage and help them better manage their energy consumption and costs. It will be included in NAESB's filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next month.
The recommended standard is also expected to create opportunities for innovation. With utilities now installing "smart" electric meters in millions of homes and businesses, established companies and start-ups are developing new products and services tailored to the energy-use behaviors and objectives of consumers. Smart-meter technology will enable real-time (or near real-time) communication of energy use, consumption, quality and source, among other information. The standard is "Internet-friendly," and its applications will include enabling customers to view and understand their energy usage and cost using local access devices and over the Internet.
The SGIP, a consensus-based group of public and private organizations, was created in 2009 by NIST to support the agency in its role to coordinate the development of Smart Grid standards. While the SGIP does not develop or write these standards directly, it works with existing standards organizations to coordinate and accelerate the development of standards that respond to needs critical to achieving a nationwide Smart Grid. This vote by the SGIP governing board signifies that its leadership has agreed to recommend the standard as relevant and needed.
For more details, see the Feb. 17, 2011, NIST news announcement "Smart Grid Panel Agrees on Data-Exchange Standards for Electricity Usage."