Interim airport report: Grid-Interop

H. Christine Richards | Nov 18, 2009


After all of the interoperability work that went on with EPRI and NIST earlier this year, I had to ask: is the Grid-Interop conference really necessary? Apparently, it is. This Grid-Interop conference is the largest one yet—approximately 440 attendees. But even then, it doesn’t seem like size matters as much as interoperability progress. The conference has evolved from a Grid Wise Architecture Council (GWAC) meeting, to a GWAC, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) meeting, to a GWAC, NIST, DOE and Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) meeting. The SGIP (which is a confusing acronym because every time I see it, I think of Internet Protocol) was officially launched at the conference. The panel doesn’t even write or develop standards, but coordinates smart grid standards development. This conference’s progress and the rise of SGIP, reminds us that standards development is messy indeed—and still has a long way to go.
Even with the messiness of it all, I will have to say that I am impressed that the smart grid standards have moved at lightning speed—for standards development. Yet, as the standards development organization (SDO) panel pointed out Tuesday morning, standards development must have a balance between speed and consensus. As the smart grid deployments move forward, standards are important to have in place, but building consensus is most important in the long-term. Ultimately, the value of a standard is getting consensus. But the more consensus you try to build and the more people/organizations that become involved, the slower it is to start developing a standard and the slower it is to finish it. Hopefully, the SGIP will help pick up the pace while effectively addressing the consensus piece.
On the point of finishing, the conference reminds me that standards development is never really over. As NIST’s Pat Gallagher pointed out at in his keynote address, D.C. people (i.e., legislators) are always asking him “when is this standards development thing going to be over?”and people at conferences like Grid-Interop are always asking “what’s the next step?” And, on top of the fact that it will never be over, despite all of the progress the being made, the development has really only just begun. I was reminded of this when, during the SDO panel, Laurent Liscia of OASIS asked the packed hall who owned a hybrid electric vehicle. In a room of people obviously enthusiastic about the energy, a handful of people raised their hand. When asked about who had a smart meter, even fewer hands went up (perhaps a fingerful). After covering the smart grid for many years and seeing the progress that has been made, we still have such a long way to go.
Thanks for reading!

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