Understanding Smart Grid interconnections, interfaces, and standards


Setting standards 

  • The list is long on how ideas for standards are generated. Typically, engineers who implement technology:
  • Encounter hurdles to the interoperability of equipment in the form of physical or software compatibility
  • Run into a gap in established processes for how certain actions should be taken
  • In the implementation of an established standard, may find that an issue has been left unaddressed. 

The IEEE encompasses several dozen technical societies and groups, each of which has an interest in creating standards pertinent to its focus. Those interested in initiating a standard may form a working group to bring the matter to the attention of a technical society, which becomes the sponsor of the activity and then forwards the matter to the IEEE-Standards Association’s (IEEE-SA) New Standards Committee (NesCom) as a project authorization request, or PAR.

The members of the NesCom review the PAR to ensure that proper procedures have been followed and the originating group has offered a workable plan to complete the standards process within a reasonable timeframe. When the PAR is approved, it returns to the working group, which starts to create the draft of the standard. 

After a draft of the standard has been created, the document is ready for balloting. The working group creates a sponsor ballot pool composed of people who express interest and are registered with IEEE-SA as potential balloters for the specific topic. Essentially, this is the peer review process. 

After the sponsor ballot process is completed, the working group must address every comment. Then the working group attempts to build consensus behind the updated draft, first among its own membership in the resolution of the comments and then among members of the ballot pool.

Sciacca is president of SCS Consulting. He is an active senior member in the IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the area of utility automation. He has more than 25 years of experience in the domestic and international electrical utility industries. Sciacca serves as the chair of two IEEE working groups that focus on cyber security for electric utilities: the Substations Working Group C1 (P1686) and the Power System Relay Committee Working Group H13 (PC37.240). Read his Insights on Power blog for more on this topic.

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