NEMA Launches Smart Grid Interoperability Testing Program
Feb 3, 2011
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The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) launched the Smart Grid Interoperable & Conformant (SGIC) testing scheme to promote testing for products and devices based on Smart Grid standards identified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP).

"By a number of definitions, Smart Grid is an investment program,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “The federal government has invested billions of dollars through the Stimulus Act, which has prompted corresponding investments by utility companies and manufacturers alike. Ultimately, in order for this to be a success, it will also require consumer investment both in terms of in-home devices and electric rates that support utility company deployments."

NEMA was named to be a collaborator with NIST on the interoperability framework in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It created SGIC to provide a forum where Smart Grid stakeholders can validate the interoperability of individual grid elements on a consistent, broadly agreed upon, industry-wide basis.

The first standards targeted under the scheme will be components of the ANSI C12 Suite, a package of standards that provides requirements and performance criteria for electricity metering.

The smart meter standards, which are published by NEMA, are included on the initial list of "Standards Identified for Implementation" in NIST Special Publication 1108. Because meters are already being deployed, their testing under SGIC is designed to promote the major points that define the Smart Grid adoption process—testing and certification, governance, harmonization, and backward compatibility, all while protecting participants’ intellectual property rights.

The NEMA scheme is intended to conform to the appropriate ISO (International Organization for Standardization) guides for testing and certification, and to be compatible with the recently released Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM) from the SGIP Testing and Certification Committee.

"Where interoperability was very evolutionary in the Internet, mostly through trial and error, we are moving very quickly to formalize the concept for the grid, simply because we have to,” said Al Scolnik, NEMA vice president of Technical Services. "Consumers are fairly forgiving when their Internet connection goes down, which is not the case when their electricity goes out—a condition that may also subject the utility companies to a penalty. We need to ensure, up front, that a variety of devices are compatible before they are deployed."

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