Smart meters highlighted in updated NIST Smart Grid standards

2014_10_Optimized-iStock_000025367510_Large NIST has updated its smart grid framework, adding a number of standards tied to smart meters. (Credit: iStock)

Over the past few years, the federal government has devoted billions of dollars to help improve the nation’s energy grid. As we move toward an interoperable smart grid, the grid’s standards are changing as rapidly as its associated technology.

To accommodate these changes, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released an update Wednesday that further integrates the use of smart meters into the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Framework.


Last updated in February 2012, the framework now includes 74 standards and protocols, including seven not included in prior versions. The biggest changes include protocols for smart meters, which allow engineers to monitor the grid’s flow of electricity to better maintain stability and efficiency.

“There’s been an emphasis on smart meters because of the importance of assessing [power use] within the grid, as well as the basic mechanism, to ensure accurate measurements by your utility company,” said David Wollman, deputy director of the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office at NIST.

According to the Department of Energy, more than 43 million smart meters were in use at the end of 2012, with nearly 90 percent installed in residential settings. The government estimates it will spend more than $5 billion on smart meter installation through its Smart Grid Investment Grant program.

2014_10_Screen-Shot-2014-10-02-at-1.42.12-PM A chart from that shows the amount of money the U.S. government has devoted to Smart Meters (Courtesy:

The guide also includes updates to Smart Grid architecture standards, placing a growing importance on “distributed energy resources,” including non-traditional sources like solar and wind power.

“With this increased emphasis in being able to handle distributed resources, we evolved the conceptual model to give greater importance to generation coming from many different places in the system,” Wollman said. “The new smart grid needs to be able to handle distributed resources wherever they are. That includes on the customer’s premises or resources tied to the distribution grid.”

NIST also released an update to its smart grid cybersecurity framework, which works in concert with the agency’s larger cybersecurity framework. Smart meters have built-in two-way communication that records and transmits data instantly to energy providers.

You can view the updated NIST guide below, as well as a beginner’s guide to the new framework.


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