This month, NEMA unveiled its Smart Grid Testing Scheme at the World Meter Design Congress. The testing scheme, the Smart Grid Interoperable & Conformant (SGIC), is designed to help manufacturers, utility companies, and test laboratories identify points of interoperability in Smart Grid standards, and design test specifications that make sense to all parties.

The NEMA program was developed to conform to a set of interoperability guidelines put out by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), an industry consortium established by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST). The reasoning behind creating the SGIC is that the industry has a long history of conformance and safety testing, but not interoperability. Think of interoperability as electrical products “playing well together.” In the past, monitoring and testing electrical products’ “playing habits” in this manner was not very common. This new testing scheme is aimed at standardizing the procedures for conducting these types of tests.

So what does all of this mean?

The SGIC intends to accomplish specific goals for utilities, the government, manufacturers, and consumers. The goals for each entity are outlined below. 

Utilities:

  • Meet demands for trusted equipment to fulfill interoperable business needs
  • Strengthen confidence to invest in plans that expand customer understanding and energy-saving capacity

Government:

  • Meet government’s objective of ubiquitous access
  • Ensure quality electrical service across the board 

Manufacturers:

  • Promote confidence for industry to build products that the market will accept
  • Ensure industry regulation and oversight of manufactured products

Consumers:

  • Ensure that there are universal standards that provide access for Smart Grid applications
  • Allow “plug-and-play” experiences with products

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