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Smart Grid National Coordinator General Information:
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Standards Information Resources from NIST and SGIP

Glass globe nestled in green grass.
Credit: Leigh Prather
What is the difference between NIST’s "Identified Standards" list and the SGIP’s "Catalog of Standards"?

As the various stakeholders in the smart grid community—including utilities, manufacturers, regulators, and
consumers—participate in the growth and evolution of the smart grid, they will be guided by standards identified by technical experts. Two resources that will be useful to smart grid stakeholders are the following:

This article describes these two resources, including their purposes, relationship, and usefulness to the smart grid community.

Here are some key points to remember:

  1. The two resources are closely related. One is maintained by NIST, and the other is maintained by the SGIP. The first NIST "Identified Standards" list was published in January 2010, and the most recent version of this list is found in the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 2.0 Table 4-1 (pp 70-105), published in February 2012. The first entries to the SGIP "Catalog of Standards" were made in July 2011, and the most recent version is found in the Catalog of Standards Information Library.
  2. The NIST "Identified Standards" resource is the NIST reference for standards recommended for achieving interoperability of smart grid devices and systems, and it is an important component of the NIST Framework, developed by NIST to meet its EISA 2007 responsibility.1 The NIST "Identified Standards" resource provides a very brief description of the standard, and it provides links to relevant documents maintained by other organizations, including the SGIP and the standards-setting organizations that developed the standards.
  3. The SGIP "Catalog of Standards" is a compendium of standards and practices considered to be relevant for the development and deployment of a robust and interoperable smart grid, and the Catalog contains more information than the brief description in the NIST list. It might be thought of as the "Physician's Desk Reference" of smart grid standards. It is intended to serve as a useful engineering reference. The Catalog of Standards summarizes the standard itself, its purpose (as described by the standard developer), its key attributes, and comments noted by SGIP architectural and cybersecurity reviews. The information is provided at a level of detail suitable for a practitioner to make an informed decision of whether to consider it for a potential application.
  4. The most recent version of NIST's "Identified Standards" (Table 4-1 in Framework 2.0) contains 37 protocols and model standards. In addition to this list, NIST has compiled Table 4-2, which includes 61 items that are "Additional Standards, Specifications, Profiles, Requirements, Guidelines, and Reports for Further Review."2
  5. As the NIST "Identified Standards" list and the listing of additional standards for review are updated in future releases, one key source of input will be the SGIP Catalog of Standards. Other sources of input—including technical input from expert contractors, stakeholder meetings, and other reference sources—will also be used by NIST as the list is updated. (For further details on the process for updating the NIST list, see Framework, Release 2.0, Section 4.5.)
  6. The most recent version of the Catalog of Standards (as of June 2013) contains 56 standards. The ongoing process for adding standards to the Catalog of Standards accepts inputs from a wide variety of sources, including recommendations from SGIP's Priority Action Plans (PAPs), Domain Expert Working Groups (DEWGs), Standing Committees, and Working Groups. Standards-setting organizations and other organizations may also submit recommendations.(For further details on the process for updating the Catalog of Standards, see The Process in a Snapshot.)
  7. The Catalog of Standards process is working through reviews of all the NIST "Identified Standards." As of June 2013, a number of these standards have been or will soon be considered for the Catalog of Standards.

The processes used by NIST and the SGIP to compile and revise these respective resources are different, but both involve extensive opportunity for feedback and input from stakeholders and the public. For the NIST list, the process involves publication of a draft document in the Federal Register, which is followed by a public comment period. NIST also solicits specific feedback from the SGIP and its working groups. For the SGIP Catalog of Standards, the process involves reviews by SGIP working groups and "super-majority" votes by the SGIP Board of Directors and by SGIP participating members, thus indicating a level of industry-wide consensus.

1The NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 2.0 was developed by NIST to meet its responsibilities in EISA 2007, in which NIST is given "primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems."

2One source of potential confusion is that some people refer to a "NIST list" without clearly indicating whether they are referring to only the "Identified Standards" list (Table 4-1) or whether they are referring to both the "Identified Standards" list and the "Additional Standards, Specifications, Profiles, Requirements, Guidelines, and Reports for Further Review" list (Tables 4-1 and 4-2). Both listings are useful as part of the overall framework for achieving interoperability of smart grid devices and systems.