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Smart Grid Testing and Certification


The Smart Grid Testing and Certification Project provides overall coordination and leadership of NIST technical activities in working with industry to support standards-based interoperability test programs that will seek to accelerate smart grid deployments and ensure interoperability. The smart grid is extremely complex and is comprised of many systems within systems that are owned and operated by thousands of entities. These systems must be able to communicate and work together to achieve the full benefits of the smart grid. Defined standards and robust testing regimes will be required to ensure communications and interoperability among these systems. Currently, only a small number of smart grid standards have associated industry recognized test programs, and those programs that exist are primarily conformance-based and are limited in scope relative to end to end interoperability. Some new programs have emerged in the past year and benefitted from NIST participation in their development. Therefore, this project seeks to further incubate and develop new programs, as well as engaging with industry stakeholders to assure that new test programs will help to enable interoperability and support new technology adoption.


Objective - To accelerate the development of new test programs and improve existing test programs for smart grid interoperability and security by utilizing the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel testing and certification framework, and demonstrating benefits of testing and certification to end users and regulators.

The new technical idea? The smart grid is comprised of over 3,200 utilities and includes many systems within each utility that must work together across the entire electric grid. This interoperation is required to enable full functionality of the smart grid and to derive all of its benefits. Test programs will help ensure that interoperability is achieved in new smart grid deployments and also save utilities costs and shorten time for deployments. Although over one hundred standards have been identified in the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Version 3 (NIST Framework 3.0) as supporting smart grid implementation, the availability of industry testing and certification programs for these standards is at a very early stage, with few standards supported by programs.  

The approach of this project is to collaborate with the smart grid ecosystem to accelerate the development and adoption of new required smart grid test programs. Establishment and operation of test programs can be costly and human resource intensive. Thus, a key element of this project is to identify priorities of required test programs to support smart grid deployments.

In addition, new test programs require demand drivers to assure broad industry support and adoption. This project will include an outreach effort with utilities to educate them on test program benefits, which will drive demand for new and existing test programs. It will provide insight to understanding the opportunities, industry support, and potential barriers for these new test programs, as well as provide collaboration with the Smart Grid ecosystem to develop demand drivers for the creation and continued operation of these new test programs. 

What is the research plan?  The majority of the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Project performed by the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office staff will collaborate with and leverage resources and expertise of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) 2.0, particularly the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee (SGTCC) through key SGIP and SGTCC leadership roles.

The key aspect of the research plan is to facilitate and accelerate the development of new smart grid test programs, and where practical, to ensure these programs are based on the SGIP Testing and Certification Framework including the Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM), a guide that can be used by Interoperability Testing and Certification Authority (ITCA) to set up test programs. This research plan builds upon SGTCC initiatives towards the creation of testing related Priority Action Plans (PAPs) based upon the findings documented in the SGTCC Test Program Prioritization white paper published in September 2013. The first phase of this element of the research plan is to facilitate completion of the first SGIP testing PAP proposal (IEC 61850 based) in late 2015. A second phase, actually addressed in parallel with the PAP initiatives, is to significantly expand industry outreach and advocacy to drive utilities and other stakeholders to adopt these test programs as a key element in their technology evaluation and selection processes. There is an educational gap on the value and benefits of standards based test programs in the Smart Grid sector that must be effectively addressed to assure the success of test program initiatives.

In order for new smart grid test programs to be sustainable, user demand for these programs must exist in order to fund and support the operation of these programs. As such, industry outreach and advocacy for these test programs is essential. This effort will demonstrate the value of testing programs and efficiencies in the adoption of common practices that minimize the need for multiple customized programs. It will demonstrate how broadly accepted programs help to drive down costs for all stakeholders and accelerate availability of advanced products that are deployment ready.

The plan maintains support for the ongoing activities within the SGTCC with an emphasis on the continued evaluation of the SGIP Catalog of Standards (COS) entries to ensure these standards have associated test programs where needed. This will bring further attention to the need for new test programs. Ongoing support for emerging test and certification programs such as the Green Button initiative led by UCAIug and the developing Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) initiative led by IEEE will continue, along with support for future programs that align with CoS entries.

The plan also supports the SGIP Catalog of Test Programs (CoTP) initiative launched in 2014. The CoTP provides purchasers of smart grid products and systems a reference guide to available test programs and their level of implementation of SGTCC recommendations. The intent is to encourage purchasers to require that their vendors utilize these listed test programs, and if none are available, require their vendors to establish new programs to support their purchases, thereby building demand drivers for test programs.

Collaboration and cooperation with other SGIP committees and work group relevant to testing initiatives is also planned. The plan includes continuing liaison relationships with the Electromagnetic Interference Interoperability Working Group (EMIIWG), the Implementation Methods Committee (IMC) and the testing sub-group of the domain expert working group on Distributed Renewable and Generation Systems (DRGS-D).

Major Accomplishments:

Realized Impact

  • Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM) Version 2.0