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.


The Smart Grid Program develops and demonstrates smart grid measurement science advances to improve the efficiency, reliability, resilience, and sustainability of the nation’s electric grid. The Program portfolio centers on two interacting components: (1) consensus standards and protocols for smart grid interoperability; and (2) measurement science research for future grid capabilities.  The former is pursued in collaboration with community organizations like the Smart Electric Power Alliance, interagency groups such as the Smart Grid Task Force, and other industrial, academic, and government sector stakeholders. The NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability, which responds to mandates to NIST from Congress and the Administration, is continuously evolved by the Program and provides the anchor for our standards efforts.  An advanced smart grid testbed provides the focus for our measurement science research work. The testbed focuses on future distribution grid operational concepts and is designed to be agile, to accommodate a wide range of experimental and testing configurations, and composable, to enable collaborative use with other testbeds across the country. The testbed includes research installations in Building 220 and elsewhere around the NIST campus.  The program will create partnerships with other groups at NIST to leverage the campus electrical system and other research installations as expansions of our testbed capability and will partner with external organizations such as Department of Energy National Laboratories when their experimental capabilities complement NIST’s own.  The research work supports and informs the standards work and together these components enable NIST to promote the emergence of a smart grid for the nation. The NIST-wide Smart Grid Program is coordinated by the Engineering Laboratory (Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office) and draws on the expertise of the Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Measurement Laboratories.


Cityscape in the background. Solar panels in the foreground.
Credit: ©gyn9037/Shutterstock

Objective: To develop and demonstrate advances in measurement science to enable integration of interoperable and secure real-time sensing, control, communications, information and power technologies, in order to increase the system efficiency, reliability, resiliency and sustainability of the nation’s electric grid.

What is the Technical Idea?
The key technical idea is the development of a standards-based scenario implementations derived from reference architectures, with associated interoperability and security requirements, as the foundation for prioritizing and addressing measurement science needs for the smart grid. This architectural framework is described in detail in the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release  4.0, which was released for public comment in FY20 and for which final publication will be completed in FY21.  This version includes a significant update to the architectural framework of prior Framework versions and focuses on the interplay between physical and communications-based interoperability to examine interoperability requirements for emerging grid architectures.  The focus for this work is on changes in the distribution system that empower customers to become active participants in the U.S. power system.

By combining a focus on interoperability with traditional NIST expertise in measurement characterization, NIST will develop the necessary measurement science deliverables, including standards, protocols, models, test methods and research publications to ensure that the performance of the smart grid at the system, subsystem, and end-user levels can be measured, controlled, and optimized to meet interoperability, security, efficiency, reliability, resiliency and other performance requirements. To accomplish this, system-level standardized architectural concepts, data models and protocols integrated with new measurement methods and models will be characterized or developed to sense, control and optimize the smart grid’s new operational paradigm.  To improve grid operations, the new technical idea is to develop the measurement science to support real-time monitoring of grid functions through multiple measurement/sensor network systems to produce actionable information for grid operators. New power electronics performance characterization will be developed to evaluate the sources and impacts of power quality distortions on the distribution grid, which will lead to new approaches to power conditioning with new functionalities to support maximize integration capacity for distributed energy resources into the distribution grid. For user-to-grid interactions, the approach will be to model the interaction of complex building systems with the grid in a holistic, integrated manner that considers system and consumer interactions and their impact on energy consumption, comfort, safety, and maintenance.

What is the Research Plan?
The smart grid research plan consists of interrelated projects to advance measurement science to enable the implementation of new smart grid functionality that: improves grid reliability and resiliency; increases asset utilization and efficiency; and enables greater use of renewable energy sources in the grid. The projects are organized into five program thrust areas. These are: a systems-level cross-cutting Measurement Science for Smart Grid System Performance research thrust; three domain-focused research thrusts: Measurement Science for Grid Operations; Measurement Science for Distributed Energy Resources; Measurement Science for User-to-Grid Interoperation; and the Smart Grid National Coordination function within the EL Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office. The three domain thrusts develop enabling measurement science for robust sensing, power management and communications and intelligence within their domains, and the overarching system-level thrust supports system-level coordination, evaluation and use of these underlying domain capabilities under grid-scale operating conditions and addressing the cross-cutting security, network communications and electromagnetic environment. The smart grid testbed provides a unifying focus and collaboration platform for the team, with a research focus on microgrids. The Smart Grid National Coordination function continues its leadership role in engaging all key stakeholders in the smart grid community to ensure NIST smart grid program deliverables meet their needs.

Major Accomplishments

Some recent accomplishments for the Smart Grid Program include:

  • NIST Smart Grid Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0 (January 2010) and Release 2.0 (February 2012): These authoritative Framework documents are the primary NIST output fulfilling its EISA role, providing to the U.S. and world smart grid industry the high-level guidance on architectural and cybersecurity principles, standards, and testing and certification based on consensus industry input supported by a comprehensive public review process.
  • New private/public organization: Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP, established in November 2009 as a public-private partnership; transitioned to an industry-led non-profit organization in April 2013) With nearly 200 member organizations and significant international participation, the SGIP is recognized as the leading worldwide organization and forum for smart grid standards coordination and testing and certification guidance.
  • New or revised Smart Grid standards and guides: NIST-facilitated output from a variety of standards development organizations and other groups, including as part of priority action plans within the SGIP, have been developed and published, covering areas such as energy usage information, smart meters, electric vehicles, demand response, and guidelines for assessing wireless standards for smart grid applications.
  • Cybersecurity guidelines and standards: These are NIST-facilitated or NIST Interagency Report output from NIST, the SGIP Cyber Security Working Group, and other groups. The primary NIST-facilitated contribution, NISTIR 7628 Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security (Volumes 1, 2, and 3), provides an analytical framework that organizations can use to develop effective cyber security strategies tailored to their particular combinations of smart grid-related characteristics, risks, and vulnerabilities.
  • Testing and certification methods and tools: NIST-facilitated output includes the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP)-published Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM), Version 2.0, which provides recommendations on processes and best practices that enhance the introduction of interoperable products into smart grid markets.
  • Measurement methods and tools: Development of these methods and tools result in a variety of publications, guides, and models covering areas including synchrophasor, advanced meters, time synchronization, building-to-grid and other testbeds, and system performance models.

Created November 26, 2012, Updated July 8, 2023