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NIST Releases EPRI Report on Smart Grid Development; Priorities, Standards, Architecture

Smart Grid electric transportation applications summary communications diagram. Click to enlarge.

The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released for public review a report that identifies issues and proposes priorities for developing technical standards and an architecture for a US Smart Grid. The Smart Grid is a planned nationwide network that will use 21st century information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely, while allowing increased use of renewable power sources.

The nearly 300-page report, developed and delivered to NIST by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), is part of the first phase of NIST’s three-phase plan, announced in April, to expedite development of key standards for the Smart Grid. NIST will accept public comments on the report for 30 days after the publication of an upcoming notice in the Federal Register announcing the report’s availability.

Widely adopted interoperability standards will enable integration, effective cooperation, and secure two-way communication among the many networked elements of a smart electric power grid. This report is an important step forward in that process.

—George Arnold, NIST National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, NIST has “primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems…” NIST is working closely with the Department of Energy, the lead agency in the federal Smart Grid effort.

Earlier this year, NIST awarded a contract to EPRI for assistance in developing the standards framework. EPRI technical experts have compiled and distilled recommendations from a variety of Smart Grid stakeholders, including technical contributions taken from two EPRI-facilitated, two-day, public workshops. The EPRI report also incorporates contributions from six expert working groups established by NIST in 2008, and a cybersecurity coordination task group established in 2009.

The report describes at a high level the use cases that were the subject of the interim roadmap discussions and workshops, and, through which the actors (and their interfaces), information objects, and ultimately requirements and standards were derived. These use cases included wide area situational awareness (WASA); demand response; electric storage; electric transportation; AMI systems; and distribution grid management.

Electric transportation.. Both FERC and the Obama administration recognize electric transportation as a key area of focus for the Smart Grid community. The current grid and market infrastructure cannot support mass deployments of PEVs, according to the report, and there are special issues to consider when designing for massive PEV support. The introduction of millions of mobile electricity charging and discharging devices provides unique challenges to every domain on the Smart Grid.

The report envisions two major scenarios with the advent of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), with one or the other or both actually playing out:

  • PEV will add significantly to the load that the power system will have to serve, and if no regulation, coordination, and/or incentives are included, then PEV could significantly increase the cost of peak power.

  • PEV, although still adding to the load, will help balance on- and off-peak loads through shifting when they are charged and also eventually by providing storage and discharging capacity. Additional ancillary services could also improve energy efficiency and power quality. These shifting strategies will result from carefully tailored pricing and market incentives.

Many stakeholders will be involved, with many interactions between them. The report describes following use cases illustrate the types of interactions across these interfaces, and the interoperability standards, cyber security requirements, and system management that will be needed to realize these Smart Grid visions.

NIST will use the EPRI report in drafting the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework. The NIST document will describe a high-level architecture, identify an initial set of key standards, and provide a roadmap for developing new or revised standards needed to realize the Smart Grid. Release 1.0 of the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework is planned to be available in September.

A third public EPRI-sponsored Smart Grid interoperability-standards workshop will be held in early August to engage standards-development organizations in responding to unaddressed, high-priority needs identified in the draft standards roadmap.

Ultimately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) determines whether sufficient consensus has been reached to implement final standards and protocols necessary for Smart Grid functionality and interoperability. NIST’s role is to identify and submit to FERC recommendations for the final product.



Stan Peterson

Interconnecting Grids to make ever larger Grids is self limiting. The trunks between Grids become the fundamental weak points, unable to handle massive surges.

One of the stupidest things the ignorant Enviros want, is more intermittent power. The fundamentals of providing base-load and predictable well-damped, oscillation-free grids, is being over ruled by political polemics in support of investments in very inefficient, very costly, and ultimately not very useful power generation.

I speak of course of the so called renewables. Countries like Denmark or Spain that have invested lots in building Wind and Solar sources, report that they have been unable to close a single conventional generating source, as the demands to have standby or dampening base-load on-line, ends up creating a need for just as much conventional power as ever.

But they have not and do not have the resources to build them. Even as their National generating nominal capacity has increased by 20% by "nameplate ratings".

Meanwhile "Nameplate rated" power from renewables proves to be largely a mirage. Wind is producing only 3% of nameplate ratings, in practice.

Denmark admits its "renewables" Grid would go into oscillation, and collapse were it not able to damp these oscillations by its connection to Germany's comparatively massive, conventional base-load. There have been many close calls, that were prevented only by access to Germany's base-load.

But enviro-weenies don't know and don't care, because they are politically driven, and ignorant of physical limits and realities.

The predictable result is an aging of the conventional physical plant, with reliability and maintainability becoming an ever-growing issue.

Will S

This effort shows promise for the future of BEV and PHEV vehicles. There's already been significant progress in this area by Gridpoint, and even Google and Cisco have entered this field.

Smart chargers and the ability of a customer to determine how much charge they want at particular prices (or how much they choose to sell at various prices) will allow high penetrations of variable renewable energy sources.

For example, a commuter with a 20 mile round trip could go a week on a single charge in a 100 mile range Mitsubishi MiEV, so they can be picky about the price they will pay or generous with what they can sell at prices appealing to them.

Will S

Stan wrote;

> Wind is producing only 3% of nameplate ratings, in practice.

Your post is full of inaccuracies, the above being one of the most glaring. Wind turbine capacity factor (actual/nameplate) is over 35% for wind turbines installed in the 2004-2005 timeframe. And micro-siting techniques continue to improve. And wind generated electricity now costs about $0.05/kWh.

>The trunks between Grids become the fundamental weak points, unable to handle massive surges.

Which is why high capacity interconnections are planned. Did you even read the report or have a clue about infrastructure upgrade plans??

> But enviro-weenies don't know and don't care...the stupidest things the ignorant Enviros

Next time, make sure you have the facts before you accuse others of the faults you suffer to the extreme.


Stan is right - they have to keep the conventional power available for the times when there is NO wind, or say < 10% wind, which can be for quite long periods ( 1 or more weeks).

You can add all the wind you like, and have lots of greenography videos of windmills turning, but there will be long (weekish) periods when there is essentially no wind.
And you have to burn the carbon at this stage, and keep them available for this.

You have to get the power from somewhere - Denmark gets it from Germany or hydro from Norway, but not every country is in the middle of the euro grid. So you can only go so far with wind.

If done properly, you may be able to save some (natural) gas, but that is about it. You won't be able to decomission your gas plants.

Smart grids are another thing.
In theory, they will teach us to charge things, and wash things at night, and this would be a good outcome.

The scary bit is security. Smart grids are for the benefit of the grid operators (not the planet), and they tend to allow the possibility of remotely turning off electricity supply.

So the grid operators can disable non paying customers - OK.
But any networked electronic device can (and will) be hacked.

So, in the event of a spat with China, or just some disaffected, bright teenager, people could start dropping off the grid - and I am not sure I would want that.

So yes to variable pricing, and NO to remote disabling.


We could replace a lot of the coal fired power plants with renewable methane combined cycle plants. IMO, we do not because of the coal lobby. Once the farmers realize that that 1/4 to 1/2 of the biomass in the fields can be converted to renewable methane, you will see a lobby battle. When corporate profits take precedence over nation energy security interests, we have a problem.

Will S

> Stan is right - they have to keep the conventional power available for the times when there is NO wind, or say < 10% wind, which can be for quite long periods ( 1 or more weeks).

Read the report. And note that there are 10 different regions of the US to provide wind power, so if 2 or 3 are low in any given timeframe, others can help balance the load, along with demand side management. And don't think just wind; there will be solar and geothermal power, as well as hydropower and CAES that can provide storage during times of high wind/solar output (and some hydro facilities are primarily storage).

Natural gas and nuclear plants won't be going anywhere; the former can be used in times of short term needs, and the latter as steady baseload, especially at night.

Your cyber concerns are also addressed by the report. So before making sweeping and misleading generalizations in the future, find out as much as you can beforehand.


Andrey Levin

Take a look at one year graph of electricity production by wind in Denmark. It is grid’s worst nightmare:


Do you have any idea how small Denmark is?
It's only 43,098.31 km2. It's the 134th largest country in the world (compared to the US at 3th or 4th). This means that its wind energy is subjected to LOCAL WEATHER conditions; where it's at its most variable.

OTOH in America wind energy can benefit from continental whether patterns: Wind farms across the country can be interconnected to even out each other's output.


Andrey Levin

Ai Win:

You do not get it. Wind electricity destabilizes the grid because of unpredictable and extremely fast changes in rate of generation. And the bigger the grid, the bigger unpredictable swings in generation/transmission surges. Overall for half-continental grid it is possible to level-out electricity generation (well, wind blows somewhere, right?) But the bigger the grid, the bigger the chance of devastating surge, let alone nightmare of balancing phase and frequency.

BTW, Denmark produces the highest percentage of wind electricity among any country in the world. Not surprisingly, Denmark has the highest electricity price in the world too.


...and you forget to mention the issue of transmission power loss. I guess that means that any attempt to go green is a complete waste of time and the ONLY solution is coal. Right? ;-

Will S


You do not get it. With 10 wind power regions in the US, if even 2 or 3 are low, the other can help to balance out. And don't forget that there will be solar and geothermal in addition to existing hydro; nuclear can provide baseload and natural gas can provide quick response capacity. On top of that, demand side management will also be a factor in smoothing out any potential level 2+ TLRs.

Dan, HVDC lines have very low loss. A number are already in place, and more will be added to form the backbone of the national smart grid.

Read the report! Too many are responding here off the top of their heads without a clear understanding.


I would like to see more distributed generation. PVs on millions of roofs and maybe even advanced design wind turbines on the roofs of big box stores in the suburbs.

I have always hated the look of those large high voltage transmission towers running through the Mojave desert and even to a lesser degree through urban areas. Looks aside, if they can be buried, or better yet, not be required at all, that would be fine with me.

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