Using IEEE 2030 as a Smart Grid primer for public utility commissions

In shaping technical and rate policies in the globally emerging Smart Grid, public utility commissions, and other regulators around the world can source IEEE 2030 as a reference document and primer.

By Dick DeBlasio, Chair, IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee December 31, 2014

The Smart Grid is bringing definitive change to the world of electricity and regulation is one area that will be touched by the transformation. For example, in the United States, regulation of electricity distribution and retail has been historically fragmented among the public utility commissions (PUCs) within each state—just as operation of the electricity grid historically has been “silo-ed” among about 3,000 utilities.

But achieving a seamless, boundary-crossing facility for two-way flow of power and communications will require some level of conformance to a more comprehensive, national regulatory structure around interoperability. Furthermore, there will be decisions to be made around reimbursements for new technologies sought to deliver some of the Smart Grid’s most promising potential benefits in areas such as reducing environmental impact and empowering consumer choice.

In shaping technical and rate policies in the globally emerging Smart Grid, PUCs and other regulators around the world can source IEEE 2030 “Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS), End-Use Applications, and Loads” as a reference document and primer.

In 2011, IEEE 2030 became the first interface-by-interface guide to Smart Grid interoperability—a system-of-systems, technology-agnostic road map to the standards and functional interfaces necessary to securely integrate EPS with communications and information technology (IT) for data exchange across the Smart Grid. Operational procedures are addressed in IEEE 2030, but it is the technical edge of the Smart Grid that is emphasized. For example, security is addressed heavily in the standard, with guidance on the interfaces at which cyber security is required in the Smart Grid.

IEEE 2030 intentionally does not recommend specific solutions for hardware, software, or equipment standards; rather, as a system-oriented standard, IEEE 2030 instead offers interface-by-interface guidance on the available options and relevant standards for connecting power, communications, and IT systems across the Smart Grid. In addition, a “Smart Grid interoperability reference model” is defined, identifying interfaces among functional domains of the power grid and exploring the relationships among the domains (such as characteristics of data flows and constraints, issues, and impacts on interoperability at each interface). Standards-based architectural direction is provided via labeled diagrams, and the standard establishes a common language and classification system, allowing the tremendous range of Smart Grid stakeholders around the world to communicate more effectively and efficiently.

More than 400 professionals from the communications, IT, and power sectors worldwide had a hand in the globally open development process that produced IEEE 2030. The IEEE 2030 standard references the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the framework-coordination efforts of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC)  interests and additional protocols from a wide range of organizations including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International, and Zigbee. But, from its outset, IEEE 2030 broke new ground—an uncommonly multi-discipline effort resulting in the world’s first standard built from the ground up to deliver a systems-level view of the interconnections, interfaces, and other points of interoperability that the Smart Grid will demand in the decades of implementation that are ahead.

For PUCs and other regulators around the world who have to make decisions about operational agreements both technical and involving rates and reimbursement from market to market, IEEE 2030 can serve as a key primer to Smart Grid development, providing a unique systems-level understanding the new opportunities and challenges being confronted around the world.

Dick DeBlasio is a member of the IEEE Standards Board and past member of the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors and chief engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He also is chair of IEEE SCC21 Standards Coordinating Committee on Fuel Cells, Photovoltaics, Dispersed Generation, and Energy Storage, which sponsors and leads the family of standards for IEEE 1547 and IEEE 2030.