SAN JOSE, Calif. A U.S. government agency has sketched out its plan to deliver in September a road map for smart electric grid standards. The agency will kick off the effort with meetings this summer, but the work of deploying smart grids is expected to stretch over the next decade.
"The magnitude of the job is not unlike the transformation in telecom" from circuit to packet networks, said George Arnold, named in late March to be the national coordinator for smart grid interoperability at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
"The smart grid standards are more complex [than the telecom transition] because we have many more standards bodies involved and there's no one overarching organization that coordinates it all--that's the role NIST will be playing," said Arnold who spent much of his 33-year career at Bell Labs helping design large carrier networks and heading up standards efforts.
The smart grid is a broad term indicating a wide array of changes that could make today's analog and closed electricity network more like the Internet in the way it is remotely and openly monitored and managed.
"Clearly the smart grid is a critical priority for the nation to improve reliability for the grid, achieve greater efficiency and accommodate the integration of renewable resources," Arnold said.
In 2007, Congress assigned NIST the job of coordinating standards for smart grids. Under the stimulus plan passed in February, NIST got $10 million from the Department of Energy to define smart grid standards as part of a broad effort to stimulate work in alternative energy.