CHICAGO -- The organization working on smart grid standards in the United States has a sourcing problem and has invited the attendees of the NEDA Executive Conference, here in Chicago, to help solve it.
“We are going to need to supply 15 million smart meters and monitors [as the implementation moves forward] and one of our questions is: How do we manage that from the supply chain perspective?” asked John McDonald, GE’s director for technical strategy and policy development and chair of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ’s Smart Grid standards development governing board. “Supplying the electronics for these is going to be a sourcing challenge.”
It’s a welcome challenge for the electronics supply chain that has been eyeing smart grid opportunities for a number of years. But before any hardware ships, both standards and infrastructure issues need to be addressed.
In 2007, NIST was charged with "coordinating the development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems." NIST put together a standards development governing board of 27 members. That board has since determined its smart grid standards roadmap will address capabilities, priorities, architecture, release plans, responsibilities, governance, and conformity.
NIST’s work could have a huge impact beyond US shores. The US is the only country currently developing smart grid standards, and other countries are looking to emulate the process.
Phase 1 of NIST’s three-phase plan -- recognizing a set of existing standards that can be used in the roadmap -- has already been completed. A set of 16 initial standards, including some from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) , the International Engineering Consortium (IEC) , and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) , has been identified. Some of these will need further development.
The second phase -- establishing a standards panel to make recommendations -- has also been completed. Phase 3 -- which will look at product conformity, the smart grid framework, and establish testing and certification -- is now underway.
McDonald notes that a lot of progress has already been made in smart metering and that a nationwide smart grid will evolve over many years. “I prefer to use the term ‘smarter grid,’ ” he says.