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Cloud computing and smart grid are going to have to get to know one another much more closely in the future, if utilities are to squeeze the most costs — and realize the greatest potential revenues and capabilities — from their smart meters, distribution management systems, back-end billing and customer service systems and other IT. Oh, and they’ll have to keep it all secure. On Friday, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its “draft guide to cloud computing,” a document that lays out how the federal agency in charge of standards wants cloud computing to match its priorities. Security is going to be critical, something utility-aimed cloud offerings will need to pay attention to. Utilities have been slow to adopt cloud computing offerings, but it’s slowly happening — Verizon and eMeter teamed up to provide eMeter’s smart meter data management over Verizon’s cloud service, and other utilities are turning to the cloud for back-office data management needs that are set to explode as meters start transmitting data in minutes, rather than in months. They’d better stay abreast of NIST’s concerns about cybersecurity and data privacy while they’re at it.