The smart grid potentially brings impressive benefits, such as increased reliability, lower costs, fewer emissions, and greater energy security. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been holding workshops to further the smart grid, supporting its evolution in a way that maximizes its potential and meets broad stakeholder needs. Energetics provides NIST with a range of assistance in planning and executing these events, helping to ensure their success and reporting on outcomes.  

As the smart grid evolves, new architectures, devices, systems, and applications exchange growing volumes of data, necessitating the use of well-defined interfaces to transfer and translate data across the grid. Therefore, the smart grid requires safe, secure, and effective communication between various systems and software, referred to as “interoperability.” If we are to realize the benefits of next-generation electricity delivery, we must ensure that next-generation systems can communicate, exchange data, and then use the information. 

In response to this growing need, NIST has taken on development of the Smart Grid Interoperability Framework, a blueprint that includes protocols and guidance to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems. NIST has invited stakeholders to help explore interoperability challenges through a series of regional workshops focused on revisions and updates to the framework. Participants discuss interoperability in major grid scenarios and the role of interoperability as an enabler for new interactions between devices at different system levels, including the expanded use of distributed energy resources (DERs), bulk power, microgrids, and hybrid systems incorporating multiple sources. The meetings are hosted at state utility commissions: the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Georgia Public Service Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. The events also provide opportunities to discuss regional issues and hear community feedback.

Energetics assists with these meetings through communication of results, including major themes and challenges. Findings are delivered in a written report that NIST uses as a reference to aid in further development of the framework and better understanding of regional issues.