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Smart Grid National Coordination


The Smart Grid National Coordination project leads, coordinates and manages the national public-private stakeholder partnership effort to accelerate development of interoperability standards for the smart grid, fulfilling NIST’s statutory responsibility under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). NIST’s highly visible leadership of smart grid standardization efforts helps to ensure that the estimated $400 billion of industry smart grid investment over the next 20 years in the U.S. will be interoperable and secure, and promotes international harmonization and alignment to maximize the ability of U.S. manufacturers to compete in a global smart grid market. The project also provides programmatic leadership of NIST-wide smart grid measurement science research conducted in the Engineering Laboratory, the Physical Measurement Laboratory, the Information Technology Laboratory, and the Communication Technology Laboratory.


Objective: This project leads, coordinates and manages the national public-private stakeholder partnership effort to accelerate development of interoperability standards for the smart grid, fulfilling NIST’s statutory responsibility under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), and provides programmatic leadership of NIST-wide smart grid measurement science research.

What is the new technical idea? 
NIST leadership, coordination and acceleration of smart grid interoperability standards development are key responsibilities established under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). NIST’s national and international coordination efforts engage the broad range of smart grid stakeholders to identify their needs and to ensure that these priorities are addressed in the ongoing smart grid interoperability standards development process. Key stakeholders include industry, other federal agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), state and local agencies and regulators, Congress, trade associations, standard setting organizations (SSOs), universities, and other governments.

NIST relies on partnerships with external organizations to convene stakeholders and amplify NIST’s outreach capabilities with community-specific guidance and communications that complement the technical content of NIST publications. In recent years, a cooperative agreement with the Smart Electric Power Alliance has provided a community of technical contributors to different Smart Grid Program projects, which has initially focused on the Testing and Certification and Transactive Energy projects and is now expanding to include cybersecurity and interoperability profile work. This engagement amplifies the technical contributions provided by NIST. The more effective management and stakeholder engagement capabilities of SEPA also enables NIST to increase its focus on challenging measurement science research barriers that require NIST’s unique capabilities to address.

Publication of the Smart Grid Interoperability Framework Revision 4.0 identifies a broad list of research needs for smart grid interoperability. The areas of grid operations, economics, cybersecurity, and testing and certification all have significant knowledge and performance gaps which require improved measurement and characterization of system phenomena, as well as requirements definition to improve system function through interoperability. Work is underway to advance related research efforts.

What is the research plan?
The project has three components: Smart Grid Secretariat, Stakeholder Engagement Activities, and Smart Grid Measurement Science Program Development and Management.

Smart Grid Secretariat
The Smart Grid Secretariat provides leadership, coordination, and management for the NIST Smart Grid Program. It convenes a broad-based stakeholder partnership that engages industry, government, SSOs and academia in developing the interoperability and cybersecurity standards underpinning the nation’s smart grid.  It initiates and manages collaboration with international smart grid efforts to create harmonized standards and international alignment that maximize export opportunities for US manufacturers. The Secretariat provides periodic reports to Congress on the smart grid program as required by EISA. The Secretariat ensures interagency coordination through direct agency interactions and participation on the DOE-led Federal Smart Grid Task Force. It provides technical support to state regulators (including via the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) and FERC, who are responsible for promulgating standards-related smart grid regulatory policies and approving smart grid investments. The Secretariat administers the NIST Smart Grid (Federal) Advisory Committee, a group of high-level leaders and executives from the smart grid industry and academia that advises NIST on the smart grid program.  The Secretariat has strategic engagement with national and international leadership of Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) in order to facilitate and accelerate standards development.

The Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, published by NIST in January 2010 (Release 1.0) and updated in February 2012 (Release 2.0), provides the smart grid industry and U.S. regulators the foundational guidance on architecture, standards, testing and certification, and  cybersecurity based on consensus industry input and a comprehensive public review process. The Smart Grid Secretariat coordinated the development and review of Release 3.0 update of the NIST Framework in collaboration with the SGIP and other stakeholders and technical resources. The NIST Framework Release 3.0 was completed and published in FY14. Following a two-year development process that included hosting workshops in Washington, DC and at sites around the country, the Smart Grid Secretariat disseminated a draft of Release 4.0 of the NIST Framework for public comment in FY19.  Release 4.0 provides guidance on ways to consider the implications of different grid architectures and local operating conditions on system operations, cybersecurity risks, economic considerations, and interoperability testing and certification requirements.  After the public comment period is completed, Framework Release 4.0 will be formally published in FY20. 

The Smart Grid Secretariat actively promotes the results of NIST’s smart grid program through publications in industry journals and invited talks at technical programs of major smart grid conferences and workshops.  These opportunities showcase the results of the NIST Smart Grid Program and its impact.

Stakeholder Engagement Activities
NIST created the SGIP in December 2009 as a public-private partnership to coordinate stakeholders and support NIST in developing the Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards.  In April 2013,  SGIP operations transitioned to a new private-public nonprofit organization, the SGIP 2.0, Inc. (to distinguish it from original public-private partnership SGIP 1.0). Since smart grid interoperability standards and testing and certification will continue to evolve and require significant ongoing stakeholder coordination, with NIST encouragement the private sector has increased its leadership role to create and support SGIP and its operations. Consistent with the NIST-SGIP Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2012, a cooperative agreement between NIST and SGIP was established in April 2013 to further coordinate smart grid stakeholders to accelerate smart grid standards development and implementations.  The Secretariat provides management oversight and technical direction for this cooperative agreement , and will continue to support SGIP through NIST leadership and technical contributions within the SGIP.  

In 2017 SGIP merged with the Smart Electric Power Alliance, ushering in the next phase of the public-private partnership.  NIST Smart Grid Program staff have since continued to hold leadership positions in various SEPA standing committees and working groups, including: Testing and Certification Working Group, Cybersecurity Working Group, Grid Architecture Working Group. In addition, NIST staff serves as ex-officio members on the SEPA Technical Advisory Committee.

NIST’s relationship with SEPA has migrated to a grant structure based on specific and desired technical contributions to the grid community.  These technical activities include: Maintaining and updating the Smart Grid Catalogue of Standards; developing a new Catalogue of Test Programs; and most importantly developing a community of support and technical content for interoperability profiles and open source test harnesses—two critical standards testing and certification gaps identified as part of the Interoperability Framework 4.0.

NIST’s stakeholder engagement activities are also accelerating with organizations other than SEPA.  For example, in FY19 NIST held four regional workshops in partnership with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.  For FY20, this partnership will evolve to develop educational materials with NARUC to facilitate regulator awareness on Framework 4.0 priorities, including incorporating testing and certification requirements into regulatory language and updated perspectives on cybersecurity for the smart grid. 

Smart Grid Measurement Science Program Development and Management
The primary focus of this effort is to effectively leverage NIST unique capabilities in measurement science to address key technical and measurement barriers in smart grid development and deployment. This effort develops the strategy, assigns priorities, and allocates resources for NIST smart grid measurement research. This effort provides management oversight and technical direction for the ongoing and new smart grid-related research projects in the Engineering Laboratory, the Physical Measurement Laboratory, the Information Technology Laboratory, and the Communication Technology Laboratory that are described in the other projects under the Smart Grid Program. Staff works closely with the leadership of the Labs to allocate resources for the projects, conduct periodic program and project reviews, monitor progress, and assess impact. A key goal is to identify and initiate select new efforts to address critical measurement needs across the NIST-wide research portfolio.

An important focus area for the Office is to advance system engineering, simulation, modeling and validation of the smart grid. With completion of Smart Grid Testbed construction, program staff has begun planning and executing research that leverages the diverse experience of the multiple NIST OUs involved with the program to develop research projects focused on system optimization rather than the performance of individual devices or assets. Projects such as the Building 101 PV array repowering activity bring value because the primary objective—an engineering question—is complemented by the engagement with PML and the deployment of the highest-quality metrology equipment available today. Collaboration with EL Energy and Environment Division has yielded a new research opportunity through deployment of bifacial modules, that will place the NIST Smart Grid Program on the leading edge of research regarding distribution grid optimization.

Collaborations with the Net Zero House Facility have previously allowed Smart Grid Program staff to conduct impedance measurements of the house to complement smart meter performance work conducted in PML. In FY21, this collaboration will expand to recording harmonic distortions of typical household appliances (such as heat pumps, water heaters, etc.) that will complement similar work done in the Smart Grid Testbed and with PML. The goal is for NIST to combine these different workstreams create an analytical model of the impact of customer-facing distortions in electrical waveforms at the point of common coupling with the grid, which has not been done yet in the literature but is much more important than characterizing these waveforms at the source.

Finally, the program is adopting an approach to systems modeling that complements the direct measurement of individual device function with a comprehensive assessment of the integrated effect many devices have on the system. The first work in this effort was the Hurricane Irma resilience analysis, which used econometrics and systemwide performance statistics to evaluate utility operations and resilience during natural disasters. The Irma work is a quasi-experimental approach to systemwide data that confirmed NIST research on the expected benefits of interoperability investments. The next system-wide analysis focuses on developing a model of the changing generator-based inertia in electrical grids, with future scenario analyses focusing on examining the limits and economic implications of these impacts. This work complements the research work on harmonics and power quality distortions at the household/distribution grid level, and will help program research characterize the changing physical interface between high-voltage and distribution grids and any associated change in control and/or interoperability requirements.

External collaborations, such as those with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will allow program staff to amplify the impact our specific metrology expertise through collaborations that leverage external research facilities. Examples of this include the traveling wave fault detection project that is a joint effort between the NIST Smart Grid Program, NREL, and San Diego Gas and Electric.

Major Accomplishments

Research Outcomes:

  • "Frameworks and Data Initiatives for Smart Grid and other Cyber-Physical Systems" D.A. Wollman, submitted to Proceedings of the 7th International ACM Conference on Distributed Event-Based Systems  

Technology Transfer Outcomes:

  • NIST published two R&D measurement needs reports from an August 2012 workshop attended by 90 leading technical and industry experts in the smart grid community. The reports, titled "Strategic R&D Opportunities for the Smart Grid" and "Technology, Measurement, and Standards Challenges for the Smart Grid" identify some of the most important technical issues in the smart grid field, and prioritize impediments and R&D areas that must be addressed for successful deployment of the smart grid. The workshop was a collaborative effort of NIST and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). 

Realized Technology Transfer Impacts:

  • NIST Framework: The NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 2.0 (and Release 1.0), NIST Special Publication 1108R2 (and 1108) is the primary reference document for interoperability protocols and standards, not only for the U.S. but also internationally. It has been used by Japan, Korea, China and the EU in developing their roadmaps, and by utilities and vendors as overall guidance to support interoperability of systems and devices. The NIST Smart Grid Program is currently working on an update of the NIST Framework; after public review in late 2013, a final Release 3.0 of the NIST Framework is anticipated to be published in early 2014.   
  • Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) 1.0 and SGIP 2.0, Inc. and associated outputs including the Catalog of Standards. The public-private partnership SGIP 1.0 (established by NIST in November 2009) and subsequent private-public partnership nonprofit organization SGIP 2.0, Inc. (established in 2012, operational in April 2013) have become the leading national and international smart grid organizations to visibly align and coordinate smart grid stakeholders to accelerate smart grid standardization and deployment. NIST has worked with the SGIP as a primary mechanism to obtain "input and cooperation" with the private sector and other agencies in developing the NIST smart grid interoperability framework. With over 190 member organizations (as of May 2013), industry is now contributing membership dues of over $1,000,000, representing greater than 50% of funding for SGIP 2.0 operations, consistent with increased industry leadership and its identification as a private-public partnership. The SGIP's Catalog of Standards (CoS) is considered to be the "Physician's Desk Reference" of smart grid standards to support industry implementations, and is one of many SGIP outputs that provides significant value to the smart grid community. Based on its consensus-confirming voting process and supported by technical reviews of standards, the CoS includes 56 standards (as of May 2013) voted for inclusion by the SGIP plenary membership. 


Created December 4, 2012, Updated July 8, 2023