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A Roadmap for Smart Grid Interconnection Standards

Efforts to develop interconnection standards are almost unique to the United States, and so this is an area in which the world can learn from the United States experience. In other dimensions of the Smart Grid the United States may have something to learn.

Countries around the world have been quick to appreciate the potential of two-way flows of electricity and information across power grids. Perceived benefits and challenges vary with geography, stage of industrial development and national energy policy objectives. But it's widely agreed that a variety of standards is essential to any realistic implementation of a Smart Grid regardless of differences in goals and applications.

In the United States, decades of slow progress have given way to an aggressive program backed by the government and supported by utilities and the power industry. For the first time on a large scale, communications, IT and power engineers are collaborating in demonstration projects to create best-practices standards for delivering electrical energy in more flexible, efficient and reliable ways.

The United States has established itself as a leading driver in creating a standards road map, but other countries are also promoting the same evolution toward .

Smart Grid activity is not limited to governments, utilities and standards-making bodies. In the private sector, the interconnectivity and integration of energy sources has become a strategic interest for companies that are creating go-to-market strategies for plug-and-play systems.

Although most of the technologies that will comprise the Smart Grid of the future already exist, the means and strategies for integrating legacy and next-generation systems do not. Creating consensus standards is the only way to achieve that integration, bearing in mind that true interoperability is the only way to achieve the highest level of efficiency.

One of the key barriers to rollout of a next-generation, interstate Smart Grid in the United States has been a lack of interconnection standards. This is mainly because, although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission defines requirements for reliability and security of power delivery, state public utility commissions have the regulatory authority at the distribution and retail levels of electric delivery.

There is a need, therefore, to drill down more deeply into the delivery network to establish interconnection standards. New consensus standards also are needed in the areas of cybersecurity, data networking, demand response, distribution, electric-vehicle support, information modeling, metering infrastructure, renewables integration, sensor networking, storage and wide-area situational awareness, among other areas.

Since interconnection standards are largely absent elsewhere in the world, there is wide interest in seeing how the United States standards effort progresses. In other aspects of Smart Grid development, the United States will have a thing or two to learn from other countries.

Asian countries, for example, have a keen interest in applying Smart Grid technology to integrate a variety of available resources, including renewables. In North Africa, the Sahara desert is seen as a site for renewable energy generation on a grand scale by using wind turbines and solar panels. The challenge is how this vast amount of energy—far in excess of the amount the indigenous population needs—can be transported across national boundaries to interconnect with other grids.

The European Union has established a goal of deploying smart meters to over 80 percent of power users by 2020. Yet it suffers from unique problems arising from the nature of the union itself: having been formed from numerous independent, industrially-advanced nations, the EU needs more information to understand the diverse, country-specific Smart Grid requirements across its membership.

Almost everywhere, the private sector plays an important role in creating and delivering products and services that move the Smart Grid from concept to operational reality. The Smart Grid is fertile ground for entrepreneurs because of the wide spectrum of technologies it embraces. Essential to their success is a collaborative environment in which they work together (meter manufacturers engaging with appliance manufacturers, for example). The interconnection standards effort provides just such an environment.

The IEEE P2030 Work Group brings together communications, IT and power engineers to create an interface document and knowledge base for electric power system interoperability. The IEEE P2030 guide will define Smart Grid terms, necessary elements and functional requirements.

The cross-disciplinary collaboration within the IEEE P2030 Work Group is revolutionary. The members’ task is to "connect the dots," figuring out, for example, how electric cars receive, store, and supply power (along with all of the billing and reporting logistics), and ways in which utilities can seamlessly interface with multi-vendor renewable energy producers in their service area.

The IEEE P2030 Work Group has become a global source of dependable, consensus answers for governments, manufacturers and utilities worldwide. But the flow of information goes both ways. Data from Germany, where voltage and frequency windows are more loose than in the United States, is being leveraged in ongoing refinement of the relevant IEEE standard.

There is an international interest in creating a roadmap of Smart Grid standards. Transparent and fair efforts to develop standards activities, such as the IEEE P2030 Work Group, provide governments, manufacturers and utilities with a community within which they can explore the integration of technologies that will enable Smart Grid rollout around the world.


  • Chuck AdamsChuck Adams is the 2009-2010 President of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA). He chairs its Board of Governors and represents Standards on the IEEE Board of Directors.

    During his Board of Governors tenure, Chuck was the first Chair of the IEEE-SA Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) and played a pivotal role in the launching of the IEEE’s corporate standards program.

    Read more

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.


David BassettDavid L. Bassett is a Senior Member of IEEE, as well as a Senior Staff Engineer/Scientist for PPL Electric Utilities ( ... Read more


Chuck AdamsChuck Adams is the 2009-2010 President of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA). He chairs its Board of Governors and represents Standards ... Read more


Robert HeileRobert Heile is a 30-year veteran in data communications and wireless data and is widely known for his many articles and presentations on the ... Read more


Russell LefevreDr. Russell Lefevre has a B.S. and a M.S. in Physics from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of ... Read more