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.


While there is a clear need for communication networks supporting reliable information transfer between the various entities in the electric grid, there are many issues related to network performance, suitability, interoperability, and security that need to be resolved. This project will focus on identifying opportunities to tailor communication protocols that have been designed for network traffic control to provide quality of service (QoS) to smart grid applications and to manage power flows in the smart grid between traditional and renewable generation sources and between utility-owned and customer-owned assets. By creating collaborative links between the stakeholders, users, and standard developing organizations (SDOs) working on telecommunications, this project will promote the use and deployment of interoperable communication protocols for smart grid. In addition, the analytical and simulation tools and the published research findings that will be produced by this project will foster the development of new areas of inquiry into smart grid specific communication technologies. 


In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which tasked NIST with developing standards and protocols to ensure that Smart Grid systems are interoperable. An important part of the Smart Grid is the communications infrastructure, which utilities use to send command information between generation and distribution systems, and to exchange usage and billing information with their customers.

Traditionally, technology decisions have been dictated by offerings of system vendors, while business decisions are regulated by federal, state, and regional regulatory commissions and organizations (e.g. the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state Public Utility Commissions, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation). While there are many choices of communications and networking standards, most of these standards were not developed specifically for smart grid applications. The new technical idea is to work directly with the smart grid stakeholders (utilities, regulators and consumers) and the telecommunication industry (vendors, SDOs, service providers) to identify communication requirements for smart grid applications, evaluate and develop communication standards, and develop guidelines and recommendations on their use and deployment. Also, the introduction of new power distribution technologies will transform the electrical network so that it will resemble regional and continental high speed telecommunications networks, although the transported commodity will be electrical power rather than data. This creates an opportunity to apply well-established analysis and optimization techniques from the telecommunications field to aid in the design of future electrical networks.

Our research plan is focused on understanding and modeling the power grid user and system behaviors and developing control and communication strategies for achieving the smart grid vision of a more efficient and dynamic electric grid.

Our goals:

  • Develop mathematical models for the timing of arrivals and departures of power flows in microgrids based on electrical generation and consumption statistics. Compare these models to other power consumption and generation models in the literature.
  • Adapt call admission, flow policing, and anomaly detection control schemes originally developed for communication networks to manage power flows in microgrids, and develop metrics to asses their performance.
  • Validate the results of the failure mitigation study by examining component failures in a suitable test bed. Compare the performance of storage devices placed to mitigate the effects of failures with what is predicted by simulation, and modify simulation models as needed based on the test bed results.

Major Accomplishments

  • Published SGIP Priority Action Plan on Wireless Communications (PAP 2) "Guidelines for Assessing Wireless Standards for Smart Grid Applications," NISTIR 7761V2, which was voted in the SGIP Catalog of Standards in September 2014.
  • Completed modeling and simulation effort to develop and test algorithms for determining optimal placement of electricity storage devices in an electrical distribution network.
  • Developed and tested a co-simulation framework using GRIDLAB-D/NS3/ MATLAB for examining interactions between the electrical generation/distribution network and the communications network. Used PAP 2 use cases as example study scenarios. Documented the performance evaluation results in a journal article submitted for review.
  • Modeled element failures that occur in the electrical distribution network, the communications network, as well as correlated failures that affect both networks, and applied protection and restoration strategies to mitigate their effects.
Created March 11, 2011, Updated November 9, 2017