Saturday, July 3, 2010

NIST Smart Grid Architecture and Interoperability Standards - What has been accomplished?

The "Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation" of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on the NIST Smart Grid activities with regard to Interoperability Standards.

Read what the Witnesses have said:

  • Dr. George Arnold: National Coordinator for Smart Grid, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Mr. Mason Emnett: Associate Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Mr. John McDonald: Director of Technical Strategy and Policy Development, GE Energy
  • Mr. Conrad Eustis: Director of Retail Technology Development, Portland General Electric
  • Ms. Lillie Coney: Associate Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center

A remarkable statement was made by Dr. George Arnold: "The basic structure of the present grid has changed little over its hundred-year history. The U.S. grid, which is operated by over 3100 electric utilities using equipment and systems from hundreds of suppliers, has historically not had much emphasis on standardization and thus incorporates many proprietary interfaces and technologies that result in the equivalents of stand-alone silos.
Transforming this infrastructure
into an interoperable system
capable of supporting the nation’s vision of extensive distributed and renewable resources, energy efficiency, improved reliability and electric transportation may well be described by future generations as the first great engineering achievement of the 21st century."

One of THE KEY prerequisites for a smooth transformation is Peopleware - Only smart and well educated people can transform the system! Education usually has a low priority in the utility industry. Usually IT people in the utilities do not much care about monitoring, protection and control of the electric grid - may be they fear he high voltage ;-)

I have trained more than 2,000 people on IEC 61850 all over. Just a very few IT people have attended. IT people usually lack understanding the electrical network. Many protection and control engineers have a good knowledge of information and communication technologies. Even Smarter Grids will be electrical networks.

In January 2010 I conducted a 3-day training on IEC 61850 for 30 experts in Reykjavik (Iceland). Iceland's population is some 300,000. Germany has a population of some 80,000,000. If I would train the same percentage of people in Germany I would need a soccer stadium for 8,000 attendees (for the U.S. I would need some 30,000 seats). That would not be problem: Just do it ... like in Bangalore (India) for 350 attendees in 2006:

Click HERE for a brief report on the Bangalore event.

One show-stopper of the success of Interoperability Standards like IEC 61850 is the behavior of some employees from well known vendors making statements like: "Dear user, you do not need understand IEC 61850 ... we do everything for you ... ". Another is the time and effort people have to invest to implement and use interoperable systems based on IEC 61850. With IEC 61850 running on a Chip and an affordable Development Kit experts can right start to use IEC 61850 and link their application to the IEC 61850 models, services and configuration language. Since the Kit is available (March 2010) I use several Kits for Hands-on Training.

Click HERE to get details on the Development Kit, Beck IPC (Pohlheim/Germany).
Click HERE on some discussion on Peopleware.

Click HERE for the Hearing Charter, Opening Statements and all Witness Statements

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