The smart grid standards-making process has been one of the most condensed, complex standards work to date, given the rush to quickly deliver a road map before the billions of dollars are allocated from the stimulus package. And it looks like we have just about a month left to wait: The producers of the GridWeek conference, which will take place Sept. 21-24 in Washington, D.C., tell us that the smart grid standards road map will be announced at the show.
That puts the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), which has been spearheading the standards efforts, on track to meet its goal to get the road map out in September. NIST has its eye on the ball — this weekend the group said it has awarded consulting and engineering firm EnerNex Corp. an $8.5 million, 2-year contract to help keep the accelerated pace of the smart grid standards going. EnerNex will be creating panels around key smart grid issues that will be identified in the September road map.
Clearly, NIST and others involved in the smart grid standards process need a lot of help in building a consensus, and many diverse voices need to be heard. That’s why I’m also heartened to hear one of the most important voices that went into the building of the Internet — Vint Cerf, father of the Internet and now the chief Internet evangelist at Google — weighing in on top priorities for the new standards. Cerf wrote in a post on Google’s Public Policy blog on Friday that the smart grid is fundamentally about delivering and managing energy information, and thus should take a cue from how the Internet was created: with open standards, open processes and free access.
The smart grid is essentially a nascent energy Internet. Thanks to the open protocols and standards on which it was built, the Internet has grown into a thriving ecosystem, delivering innovative products and services to billions of users worldwide. Applying the same principles of openness to the development of standards for our nation’s electric grid would create a smarter platform for products and services, helping consumers conserve energy and save money.
Amen to that. And we’d like to commend NIST for keeping the standards-making process so open and transparent up to this point. We’re looking forward to seeing the road map — and the industry’s reaction — coming soon!
Image courtesy of NREL.