ROSSLYN, Va. - A major step toward a standardized format for communicating actionable information on energy consumption to U.S. households has been achieved, according to the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), a public-private partnership initiated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to speed development of interoperability and cyber security standards for a nationwide smart electric power grid. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) said it applauds the effort.

Acting on a recently completed plan developed by a priority action plan team (PAP) of experts convened by SGIP, the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) has agreed to develop a basic energy usage data model standard, which defines the information used to communicate between utilities (and other sources) and the customer, and defines how that information is organized.

NAESB has committed to complete the standard before the end of 2010. SGIP has designated PAP10 to work with NAESB in an expedited effort to develop the standard,

According to John Caskey, NEMA Power Equipment Division director and SGIP vice chair, this effort is important because it provides more focus to the existing PAP10 team. “PAP10 can now develop a ‘seed’ energy information model that will be incorporated into other SGIP standards efforts. In addition, the project recognizes the immediate need to develop an expanded energy information model to support the needs of commercial building systems and industrial plants,” Caskey said.

Consisting of informational components that are combined together in a data model, the standard will allow utilities and customers to exchange detailed electricity usage and cost information in a consistent format. This will enable consumers to track their electricity usage and to help them decide how to manage their energy consumption - and costs.

“This standard is essential to provide the foundational energy usage data structure for the smart grid,” stated David Wollman, the NIST lead for the SGIP expert team. “It is needed to empower consumers to more easily monitor and then modify their energy usage and reduce their costs.”

The prospective standard is expected to also create opportunities for innovation. With utilities now installing smart electric meters in millions of homes and business, established companies and start-ups are developing new products and services tailored to the energy-use behaviors and objectives of consumers. Smart meter technology will enable real-time (or near real-time) communication of energy use, consumption, and other information.

Without a standardized format for organizing and presenting this information, there is the danger that a confusing variety of approaches would emerge leading to incompatibilities among energy management products and services that would reduce gains in energy efficiency and impede other anticipated benefits of the smart grid.

Under the SGIP-facilitated effort, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) will lead an activity to extend the NAESB model and create a facilities data model that provides additional energy usage data elements for commercial and industrial buildings (such as air conditioning, heating, lighting, and other electrical loads).

Publication date:07/26/2010