This must be the fastest evolution of a technical conference in history. It started last October with the bare germ of an idea for a Smart Grid conference. Then (fanfare!), on January 19, the joint IEEE/National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Innovative Smart Grid Technologies conference opened at the NIST facility in Gaithersburg, Md., drawing roughly 700 attendees to its three days of panels and technical sessions.

Not only that, on the first day of the conference, NIST issued the 145-page “NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0.” It’s an initial list of standards, a preliminary cybersecurity strategy, and other elements of a framework for an interoperable Smart Grid.

The document follows last June’s “Report to NIST on the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Roadmap” from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). (See “Smart-Grid Report Maps Opportunities For U.S. Engineers")

The new NIST report’s executive summary says that it “describes a high-level conceptual reference model for the Smart Grid, identifies 75 existing standards that are applicable (or likely to be applicable) to the ongoing development of the Smart Grid, specifies 15 high-priority gaps and harmonization issues (in addition to cyber security) for which new or revised standards and requirements are needed, documents action plans with aggressive time lines by which designated standards-setting organizations (SSOs) will address these gaps, and describes the strategy to establish requirements and standards to help ensure Smart Grid cyber security.”

At this rate of development, the Smart Grid effort has more the air of a United States post-Sputnik technology mobilization than the stereotype of a slowly unfolding government program. The document notes that the first 25 of those standards, specifications, and guidelines are the product of three rounds of review and comment. The set of 50 additional standards was compiled on the basis of stakeholder inputs received during the second and third rounds of review and comment. To provide an idea of the scope of the standards effort, here is a summary of the first 25:

1. ANSI/ASHRAE 135-2008/ISO 16484-5 BACnet—A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks: BACnet defines an information model and messages for building system communications at a customer’s site

2a. ANSI C12.1: Performance and safety tests for revenue meters

2b. ANSI C12.18: Protocol and optical interface for measurement devices

2c. ANSI C12.19/MC1219: Revenue-metering end device tables.

2d. ANSI C12.20: Revenue-metering accuracy specification and type tests

2e. ANSI C12.21: Transport of measurement device data over telephone networks

3a. ANSI/CEA 709.1-B-2002 Control Network Protocol Specification: Physical-layer protocol

3b. ANSI/CEA 709.2-A R-2006 Control Network Power Line (PL) Channel Specification: Physical-layer protocol

3c. ANSI/CEA 709.3 R-2004 Free-Topology Twisted-Pair Channel Specification: PA way to tunnel local operating network messages through an IP network using the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), providing a way to create larger internetworks

3d. ANSI/CEA-709.4:1999 Fiber-Optic Channel

4. DNP3: Used for substation and feeder device automation and for communications between control centers and substations

5. IEC 60870-6/TASE.2: Defines the messages sent between control centers of different utilities

6. IEC 61850 Suite: Defines communications within transmission and distribution and substations for automation and protection; being extended to cover communications beyond the substation to integration of distributed resources and between substations

7. IEC 61968/61970 Suites: Defines information exchanged among control center systems using common information models; define application-level energy management system interfaces and messaging for distribution grid management in the utility space

8. IEEE C37.118: Defines phasor measurement unit (PMU) performance specifications and communications

9. IEEE 1547 Suite: Defines physical and electrical interconnections between utility and distributed generation (DG) and storage

10. IEEE 1588: For time management and clock synchronization across the Smart Grid for equipment needing consistent time management

11. Internet Protocol Suite, including but not limited to IETF RFC 2460 (IPv6): Foundation protocol for delivery of packets in the Internet network

12. Multispeak: For application software integration within the utility operations domain; a candidate for use in an enterprise service bus

13. OpenADR: Defines messages exchanged between utilities and commercial/industrial customers for price-responsive and direct load control

14. OPC-UA Industrial: Platform-independent specification for a secure, reliable, high-speed data exchange based on a publish/subscribe mechanism

15. Open Geospatial Consortium Geography Markup Language (GML): For exchange of location-based information addressing geographic data requirements

16. ZigBee/HomePlug Smart Energy Profile 2.0: HAN Device Communications and Information Model

17. OpenHAN: For HAN connection to the utility advanced metering system, including device communication, measurement, and control

18. AEIC Guidelines v2.0: Framework and testing criteria for vendors and utilities for standards-based AMI for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solutions

19. Security Profile for Advanced Metering Infrastructure, v 1.0: Provides guidance and security controls for AMI solutions; includes meter data management system (MDMS) up to and including the HAN interface of the smart meter

20. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Cyber Security Division, 2009 September Catalog of Control Systems Security: Recommendations for Standards Developers: Compilation of recommended practices to increase control system security from physical and cyber attacks

21. DHS Cyber Security Procurement Language for Control Systems: Guidance for procuring cyber security technologies for control systems products and services

22. IEC 62351 Parts 1-8: Defines information security for power system control operations

23. IEEE 1686-2007: Covers intelligent electronic device (IED) security capabilities including the access, operation, configuration, firmware revision, and data retrieval

24. NERC CIP 002-009: Standards covering physical and cyber security standards for the bulk-power system

25. NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-53, NIST SP 800-82: Standards for cyber security standards and guidelines for federal information systems, including those for the bulk-power system

Naturally, the effort is not limited to IEEE and NIST. Those 700 conference attendees come from a range of companies and organizations from 32 countries. To support collaboration, in November 2009, NIST launched the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP). A public-private partnership, the SGIP is designed to provide “a more permanent process” to support the evolution of the interoperability framework and further development of standards.

Working with NIST, the report explains, the panel will “identify and address additional gaps, assess changes in technology and associated requirements for standards, and provide ongoing coordination” of standards organizations’ efforts to support timely availability of needed Smart Grid standards. Over the past two months, almost 500 organizations have joined the SGIP. A total of 1350 individuals from membership organizations have signed up to participate in the panel’s technical activities.