Interoperabiuty

NIST AND GWAC ON TODAY AND TOMORROW

Published In: Intelligent Utility Magazine March/April 2009

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FIRST OF ALL, BEFORE DISCUSSING THE EFFORTS OF THE NATIONAL Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the GridWise Architecture Council (GWAC), we need to get something out on the table. Interoperability for a smarter grid and a more intelligent utility involves more than just technical standards. It covers informational and organizational standards, too. For example, standards not only look at the connectivity between meters, but what it takes to do something like dynamic pricing. "Many functions and business processes need to be able to work together," said Dave Wollman, group leader at NIST. Dynamic pricing involves processes such as communicating the price of energy or sending an emergency signal.

THE GROUPS INVOLVED

With the mandate from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), NIST is moving forward with developing and maintaining an interoperability framework of standards that will enable what it calls "a highly interoperable intelligent electric power infrastructure." This effort not only involves NIST, but also many other groups, including:

  • GWAC

  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

  • Federal energy regulatory Commission (FERC)

  • North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)

  • Institute electrical of electronicsengineersieee), and internationalelectrotechnicalieC) other standards organizations

  • Nationalelectricalmanufacturersassociationnema) and other trade associations

  • Industry

In addition to this collaboration, building a framework requires a deeper dive into key areas of the smart grid and intelligent utility. To assist with knowledge-building exercises, Domain Expert Working Groups (DEWGs) have formed to provide technical input in the areas of:

  • Transmission andt&d) distribution

  • Building to grid (B2g)

  • Industry to grid (i2g)

  • Home to grid (H2G)

  • Business and policy (B&P)

As shown in ''GWAC Stack'' emphasizes the organizational and informational interoper-ability categories, whereas the T&D, B2G, I2G and H2G cover the informational and technical categories. Additionally, a NIST is organizing a task group that focuses on cybersecurity, which cuts across these categories.

CHALLENGES GOING WARD FOR

At first, a key challenge was getting people interested in this interoperability effort, but now momentum is building and drawing in many participants. ''Ultimately, you can't be a barrier to smart grid efforts to move forward,'' said Steve Widergren, a staff engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and administrator for GWAC. ''There are good reasons that people are coming together in different groups to move standards forward. The main thing is not to stop them, but to see that the efforts are well represented. This is about developing a framework and pulling groups together.''

More and more people joining the effort not only brings along new ideas, but also two key challenges: coordination and prioritization.

COORDINATION

One of the biggest challenges is coordination. ''There are many groups out there all moving ahead with individual efforts,'' said Jerry FitzPatrick, group leader of the applied electrical metrology group at NIST. ''We are trying to make them aware of what others are doing and ensure that redundant efforts are not being made. We would like to make sure all of the voices in the process are heard.''

And the complexity of coordination increases as more groups join the mix. ''This isn't just about utilities, but people from many groups, like the home automation and industrial communities,'' Widergren added. ''Each group has its own set of vendors, owners, operators and standards committees, and our efforts really push them to break down barriers. For example, what should the interface between buildings and power systems look like?''

PRIORITIZATION

With all of these groups and so many different topics that can be covered, a key question is what to tackle first? ''For H2G, the requirements list is very impressive, but a bit daunting,'' Widergren said. And FitzPatrick added, ''The next step is prioritization. We really have to prioritize and focus on particular areas.''

''For example, T&D covers the entire grid, so we created smaller groups to focus on areas like distribution automation and asset management,'' FitzPatrick said. ''These smaller groups are looking to identify key interfaces and then the larger groups will prioritize them. We are trying to keep things as simple as possible to accelerate the process.''

Looking ahead, FitzPatrick reminds us that even when focusing on specific areas, the standards will take time. ''Standards will evolve and things will come along that we can't even imagine today,'' he said. ''So together we are creating a foundation of standards that can then adapt to new developments.''

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