The smart grid requires utilities and regulators to assert leadership.
Dick DeBlasio is chair of the IEEE P2030 working group, a member of the IEEE Standards Association board of governors and chief engineer and principle laboratory program manager for electricity programs with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The promise of the smart grid—from interconnecting small-scale renewable resource systems to using smart home technologies to dynamically adjust power consumption—presents a compelling vision. Making this vision a reality, however, requires interoperability. Only through the seamless interconnection of computing, communications, and power systems can users—utilities and end-customers alike—begin to apply smart grid intelligence to real-world applications.
Advances in interoperability also will enable many of the business benefits associated with the smart grid, such as implementing tariffs for users of small-scale renewable systems. Ultimately, these business considerations will spur the growth and expansion of the smart grid, leading to new technologies, new efficiencies and new jobs.
For these reasons, engineers are very enthusiastic about developing universal standards for smart grid interoperability. However, developing such a framework isn’t simply a question of technology. It’s about navigating the legal, regulatory and business factors that influence the implementation of smart grid interconnections.
Where do we stand today in terms of smart grid interoperability? What barriers remain to broad-based implementation of consensus interoperability standards? And how will the self-regulating nature of standards development in this space influence the pace of smart grid evolution?