Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Advanced Metering in Smart Distribution Grids


Electricity meters today face unprecedented challenges, from distorted waveforms on the grid, bidirectional metering for renewables, and the use of meters as distribution grid sensors for monitoring and control. This project is focused on the measurement accuracy performance and role of smart meters as distributed end-node sensors in the distribution grid, providing leadership for an ANSI standard for meter upgradeability, and creating a testbed for testing the best commercially-available smart meters, expected to have 0.05% measurement accuracy. Additionally testing will be extended to cover smart meters with auxiliary devices enabled, particularly communications, and additional contributions will be made to a new ANSI standard. A key linkage with the Smart Grid Systems Performance thrust is that accurate characterization of the electromagnetic environments in which these meters must operate is an important input to this project.


digital meter

Objective: To advance measurement science for the performance of smart meters and associated metering standards and test procedures that will enable accurate and fair electricity metering needed for the smart grid, by 2016.

What is the new technical idea? This project will develop test procedures and protocols that apply real-world waveforms that are dynamically changing and have varying amounts of distortion present along with bi-directional power flows to smart meters. The project will also conduct tests to ensure that meter accuracy is not affected by interference from the communication module in the meter.

What is the research plan? To develop a smart meter testing facility to develop performance test requirements to ensure smart meters are accurate under field conditions.

NIST will develop a smart meter test bed to test meters under real-world conditions and verify meter accuracy, first to 0.2% and then upgrading to an accuracy of 0.05% to support the best commercially available meters anticipated in the near future. In parallel with this testing, an ANSI standard for high accuracy metering will be developed with technical input from NIST. The smart meter testbed will then be utilized to conduct distorted and bi-directional flow testing on smart meters.

Major Accomplishments

Recent Results:  


  • Developed a Quantum Watt power system developed based upon fundamental physical constants.


  • A factor of 10 improvement in measurement accuracy will be provided in the NIST power and energy meter measurement services that are the basis for all commercial revenue metering in the U.S. NIST now can now meet the calibration needs for state-of-the art commercial meter standards.


Standards and Codes:  


  • Provided technical leadership for and input to a NEMA smart meter standard, NEMA SG-AMI-1 "Requirements for Smart Meter Upgradeability".  


  • This initial standard now exists to provide guidance so that early deployments of smart meters are upgradeable as advanced functionality becomes available, and do not become obsolete and require replacement as more advanced meters are developed.
Created November 27, 2012, Updated July 8, 2023