The EISA states that it is “the policy of the United States to support the modernization of the nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system to maintain a reliable and secure electricity infrastructure.” This effectively means that the federal government will take a number of actions to encourage and regulate development of a smart grid.
A smart grid will bring the country’s aged electricity transmission system into the digital age to enable real-time coordination of information from generation supply resources, demand resources, and distributed energy resources.
One of the leading federal agencies in achieving a smart grid is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which recently began rulemaking to adopt standards to ensure smart grid functionality and interoperability in the interstate transmission of electric power and regional and wholesale electricity markets.
Under EISA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has primary responsibility for coordinating development of an interoperability framework allowing smart grid technologies to communicate and work together. Once FERC is satisfied that NIST’s work has led to sufficient consensus, FERC must promulgate interoperability standards.
In its most recent action, FERC has entered five suites of NIST standards into the rulemaking process. According to NIST, the standards will:
- Provide a common information model necessary for exchanges of data between devices and networks, primarily in the transmission and distribution domains.
- Facilitate substation automation, communication, and interoperability through a common data format.
- Facilitate exchanges of information between control centers.
- Address the cyber security of the communication protocols defined by the preceding standards.
EISA does not authorize FERC to require compliance with the final standards; however, FERC may consider requiring compliance with the standards under its Federal Power Act authorities.
Summaries of the NIST standards can be accessed at the FERC’s eLibrary at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/docket_search.asp; enter docket number RM11-2.