Internet protocol standards, which will allow grid devices to exchange information
The brain and nervous system of the Smart Grid will be provided by the information networks that connect the Smart Grid's devices, services and systems. One very important set of "tools, materials and instruction manuals" for building the Smart Grid's information networks can be found in the standards and protocols developed for the Internet as it has grown and evolved over the past generation. This standard, called the Internet Protocol Suite for Smart Grid, identifies the core set of Internet protocols-more than 150 individual protocols related to system operations, routing of communication signals and cybersecurity-necessary for devices connected to the grid to exchange information. The new networks built using these standards will allow the many, diverse elements of the Smart Grid-from electrical transmission networks and generation systems down to the small household appliances that they will power-to exchange information reliably and securely.
Energy usage information standards
The Smart Grid will use information technology to enable two-way communication between Smart Grid devices, services and systems. Just as today's Internet carries huge amounts of data and information, the Smart Grid's information networks will facilitate the sharing of large amounts of data and information about energy usage. To ensure that this information is shared effectively, the Smart Grid needs a standardized format for this data-just like people need a common vocabulary, grammar and language structure to communicate with each other. This standard provides the foundation for an "energy usage data model," also known as a "semantic model," which spells out the rules and structure necessary for the exchange of customer energy usage information. In particular, this standard deals with the vocabulary that will be used by devices and services. This standard will help consumers take control of their energy usage by providing real-time communication between utilities and consumers about power availability and cost. Consumers will be empowered to make better decisions about energy use, conservation and timing of usage. Utilities, energy service providers and manufacturers will also benefit by learning how customers use and manage their devices and energy management systems. Further, this standard will foster innovation as established companies and start-ups develop new products and services tailored to the energy-use behaviors and objectives of consumers. The standard is "Internet-friendly," and its applications will include enabling customers to view and understand their energy usage and cost using local access devices and over the Internet.
Standards for plugs used to charge electric vehicles
Over the next decade, the number of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)-vehicles that promise significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and energy independence-is likely to reach several million. This standard describes the physical connector used to plug in an electric vehicle, and it specifies such details as the dimensions, functions and configurations of the vehicle inlet and mating conductor. Standardization of the connector allows everyone to use the same charging equipment, reducing consumer costs and increasing consumer convenience. This standard applies to charging from a source of mid-level AC current, such as that presently available at a typical house or office building.
Use cases for communication between plug-in vehicles and the grid
Over the next decade, the number of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)-vehicles that promise significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and energy independence-is likely to reach several million. This standard describes the electronic information the vehicle will exchange with the grid during the charging process. This information could include, for example, the identity of the specific vehicle and owner, the location of the charging station, the amount of electricity used and the price of the electricity at different times of day. (This is similar, in some ways, to the information exchanged between credit cards and the financial network today when people pump gas for their car.) With the information made available by the adoption of this standard, utilities will be able to develop programs that enable consumers to charge their vehicles at the lowest cost during off-peak hours, such as during night-time hours. This same information will help the utilities reduce grid impacts by minimizing electric vehicle charging during peak periods.
Requirements for upgrading smart meters, which will replace household electric meters
Nearly every house has an electricity meter, and more than 50 million houses across the country will be getting new smart meters as Smart Grid strategies are realized. The meter upgradeability standard is designed to make sure that the new generation of smart electricity meters does not become obsolete by ensuring that these metering devices can be upgraded remotely and reliably, similar to the way a computer can receive software updates via its Internet connection. This standard defines requirements for utilities to use when ordering smart meters so that the meter will be upgradeable as Smart Grid technology evolves.
Guidelines for assessing standards for wireless communication devices such as cell phones
Wireless standards and their associated technologies are an increasingly important part of the development of the Smart Grid. Wireless communications are being planned and implemented for not only the meters on houses and buildings, but also the wide range of components in power plants, substations, and transmission and distribution systems. However, system designers face a myriad of decisions when it comes to the choice of wireless infrastructure for any given set of Smart Grid applications. The choice of a particular wireless technology is a local decision that must take into account a variety of operating requirements, constraints and performance goals. This standard is an initial guide to the key tools and methods that Smart Grid system designers and developers can use to evaluate and make informed decisions about existing and emerging wireless standards and associated technologies. Because of the special requirements of grid devices-such as far less tolerance of delays between transmission and reception or interruption of signals among grid devices-this standard will help vendors and standard-setting organizations become aware of the desired features for a grid-worthy wireless technology.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.