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All Together Now: Cross-discipline Collaboration, IEEE P2030 and the Smart Grid

The IEEE P2030 Working Group's smart grid interoperability standard for IT operation and end-use applications has entered IEEE sponsor balloting. Its ratification as a standard—targeted for later this year—is only a hint of what power, communications and information technology (IT) engineers can accomplish when working together.

Like the Smart Grid itself, the IEEE P2030 Working Group is an unprecedented commingling of the power, communications and IT worlds. The guide that the working group has produced represents a bridge between what can be done when the engineers serving those industries are called together in collaboration.

Two years of work in the IEEE P2030 Working Group has yielded the "Draft Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS), and End-Use Applications and Loads." Amid IEEE sponsor balloting and available for purchase now, the IEEE P2030 guide remains on track to be published as a standard in 2011. When that happens, it will provide the global smart grid movement with its first foundational, system-of-systems guide for interoperability.

Getting to this point has been an effort in cross-cultural assimilation. When the IEEE P2030 Working Group convened in March 2009, it brought together sets of engineers who had historically operated within their own industry silos. One of the first tasks of the group was learning to speak the languages and navigate the cultural norms of each other’s disciplines; standards development, for example, has typically been a more rapidly paced, more frequently revisited function in communications and IT than in power.

Because the Smart Grid is different, it demands a different way of doing things. While the ways that power is transported and distributed have grown steadily more intelligent over decades, the envisioned smart grid—a demand-responsive, two-way flow of power, information and control that breaks historical utility boundaries—is a significant leap forward in that evolution. So, in the IEEE P2030 Working Group, power, communications and IT task forces have worked in synergy with one another to detail the devices that might be networked, the information that might be exchanged and the communications methods that might be employed in rolling out the smart grid.

The product of two years of close, cross-discipline collaboration, the draft standard is a system-level set of guidelines spanning communications and IT services and end-use and power generation, transmission, distribution and load serving. By identifying the interconnection and interoperability interface standards on which the smart grid can be built—and the gaps where additional standards and/or technology development is required—the IEEE P2030 guide will help utility engineers, manufacturers, governments, IEEE and other standards development organizations focus their work and, in turn, accelerate smart grid implementation.

At the same time the expertise of IEEE members and non-members is being tapped in strengthening consensus around the IEEE P2030 guide, work around application-specific areas is already starting. An IEEE P2030.1 guide will concentrate on electric-vehicle grid interoperability; IEEE P2030.2, on the Smart Grid’s integration of discrete and hybrid storage equipment; IEEE P2030.3, on the test procedures related to standards for storage systems’ interconnection with the grid. Some interface gaps illuminated in the work of the IEEE P2030 Working Group, meanwhile, figure to demand input from standards organizations and consortia dedicated to the vertical technology spaces that the smart grid integrates horizontally.

Ultimately, the IEEE P2030 Working Group is building a wide knowledge base that will help utilities, manufacturers, governments and standards organizations globally bring about the revolutionary benefits that the smart grid promises by working together. We are only beginning to see the fruits that collaboration will yield.


  • Dick DeBlasioDick DeBlasio is chief engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., has worked for more than 40 years has worked with IEEE members and stakeholders to standardize how renewable resources such as solar, wind and hydro power are to be interconnected with the electricity grid. He is chair of the IEEE P2030 Working Group, a member of the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors.

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About the Smart Grid Newsletter

A monthly publication, the IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter features practical and timely technical information and forward-looking commentary on smart grid developments and deployments around the world. Designed to foster greater understanding and collaboration between diverse stakeholders, the newsletter brings together experts, thought-leaders, and decision-makers to exchange information and discuss issues affecting the evolution of the smart grid.


Dick DeBlasioDick DeBlasio is chief engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., has worked for more than 40 years has worked ... Read more


David WagmanDavid Wagman is chief editor of Power Engineering magazine and Renewable Energy World North America magazine. He has also served as conference ... Read more


Lorenzo PerettoLorenzo Peretto is an associate professor at the University of Bologna, Italy. He chairs the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society’s ... Read more


Mihaela AlbuMihaela Albu is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Bucharest . Her research interests include instrumentation for power grids, active ... Read more


Alessandro FerreroAlessandro Ferrero is a professor at the Politecnico di Milano. His research interests include uncertainty evaluation, the application of digital ... Read more


Shirley SilukShirley Siluk is research director at, a sustainability markets analysis firm with offices in London and San Francisco. It ... Read more