Smart Grid Manual Standardizes Interoperability

Smart Grid Manual Standardizes Interoperability

This piece was originally published in the July 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Khaled Masri, Program Manager, NEMA | Cuong Nguyen, Lead, Smart Grid Testing and Certification, NIST

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ANSI/NEMA SG-IPRM 1-2016 Smart Grid Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM) was developed and refined over the past six years by the Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee (SGTCC) of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP). NEMA’s Distribution Automation Section sponsored its development as a new standard.

The Need for Interoperability

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) undertook responsibility to coordinate the development of a framework of protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems. In order to fulfill the EISA mandate, NIST developed a three-phase plan. The third phase was to coordinate the development of a framework for testing and certification to support industry implementation of devices, systems, and processes.

In 2009, NIST launched the SGIP, a public-private partnership of stakeholders from across the electrical industry. The SGIP established the SGTCC to construct an operational framework for testing and certification. When the SGTCC found that there were few smart grid test programs, it created an operational framework that is embodied in the IPRM.

 The IPRM’s major goals are to

  • increase buyers’ confidence that the certified smart grid–related products will be interoperable with existing systems;
  • enhance the testing and certification processes, through a set of best practices, across multiple standards; and
  • reduce costs and shorten the implementation cycle time of certified products.

The IPRM introduced the concept of an interoperability testing and certification authority (ITCA) to design and manage the end-to-end processes associated with interoperability testing and certification. The IPRM includes best practices for interoperability test construction, criteria for certification body processes, criteria for test laboratory best practices, best practices for cybersecurity test construction, and ITCA implementation of the IPRM recommendations.

Adoption as a Standard

The IPRM has been revised twice since 2010. By the time version three was published in 2015, NIST and SGTCC recognized that it had already been adopted for several new test programs, such as the Green Button,[1] OpenADR,[2] and IEEE Phasor Measurement Unit[3] test programs. In 2015, the SGIP and NEMA agreed to transition the IPRM into an ANSI/NEMA standard under the leadership of Cuong Nguyen of NIST as chair and Bill Colavecchio of UL as vice-chair.

Developing an ANSI standard is based on consensus among four interest categories: general interest, producer, testing laboratory, and user. ANSI/NEMA SG-IPRM 1 received unanimous approval by the consensus body. According to Steve Griffith, Industry Director, Connected Systems Division, having this NEMA standard approved as an ANSI document reinforces the value of NEMA’s smart grid interoperability work.

Plans for 2016 include a user’s guide that will provide guidance on establishing an ITCA and answers to frequently asked questions.

[1] The Green Button initiative provides electricity customers with easy access to their usage data. (

[2] Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) standardizes the way electricity providers and system operators communicate DR signals with each other and customers. (

[3] The ICAP Phasor Measurement Unit Conformity Assessment program enables manufacturers to demonstrate conformance for synchrophasors for power systems. (

Download NIST IPRM documents.

Read this month’s issue of electroindustry.

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