SAN JOSE, Calif. The U.S. government fueled significant work on a smart electric grid this year, but the hard work of making the transition to a digital power network is just beginning. That's the view of Steve Widergren, a principal engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently named to head a broad new smart grid standards effort.
The Obama Administration has pumped as much as $3.4 billion in technology stimulus funds into smart grid projects, including a national standards effort. But the real work of completing a meaningful set of standards and deploying systems based on them is expected to stretch over the next decade and cost at least $80 billion.
"The administration's focus has been a real driver, but now the idea is to make smart grid sustainable and not just a flash in the pan," said Widergren.
| Steve Widergren|
Smart Grid Interoperability Panel
Companies including Cisco Systems, Intel and Siemens are taking part in the initial standards efforts, joining projects and helping raise public awareness about smart grid, he noted. "They are seeing a bandwagon they want to be on," he said.
Widergren was named plenary chair of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel. The group with members from more than 400 organizations was been charged to help evolve a standards framework for smart grids released earlier this year by National Institute of Standards and Technology.
A 30-year veteran of power engineering and smart grid efforts, Widergren described his new role as "a visible and influential position." He will set the agenda for the SGIP group's twice a year meetings and pick leaders for the group's architecture and testing/certification committees.