Five Foundational Smart Grid Standards Pinpointed

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The smart grid industry can't move forward very quickly if everyone working on it is designing with different standards in mind. The whole point of the new grid is to have everything functioning as a complete whole, with the ability to grow and expand without compatibility issues. That's why identifying standards has been a primary topic of concern for years. And yet, the standards are only just being identified. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has pinpointed five foundational standards, or rather families of standards, that are like gobs of play-dough that'll eventually form the standards all companies will have to work within. The NIST has named five standards ready for consideration by federal and state energy regulators. They include:

* IEC 61970 and IEC 61968: Providing a Common Information Model (CIM) necessary for exchanges of data between devices and networks, primarily in the transmission (IEC 61970) and distribution (IEC 61968) domains.
* IEC 61850: Facilitating substation automation and communication as well as interoperability through a common data format.
* IEC 60870-6: Facilitating exchanges of information between control centers.
* IEC 62351: Addressing the cyber security of the communication protocols defined by the preceding IEC standards.

Cyber security is a big one -- this problem has been on the tip of everyone's tongue lately, especially after the recent Smart Grid Security Conference in San Jose, CA. From privacy of consumer information to the concern of arsonists having a whole new tool at their disposal, security specialists have been able to spot problem after potential problem with the smart grid. And security services was identified as the next big boom for the industry.

Beyond security, the standards will help the smart grid grow with as few pains as possible. NIST's national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability, George Arnold, said in a press release that the standards "are essential to uniform and interoperable communication systems throughout the grid and will accommodate the evolution of the grid and the integration of new technologies."

It is a slow and cumbersome process, but creating standards as soon as possible is the only way the smart grid will be able to function efficiently down the road, with as few security issues as conceivable.

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