A new standard for smart grid testing and certification


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: I think people often underestimate the importance and impact of NEMA, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. It is an ANSI-accredited standards development organization and trade association serving more than 400 small, medium and large manufacturers in the electrical industry. NEMA members make much of the gear that goes into the smart grid.


With the advent of an important new NEMA standard, I asked  Assistant Vice President Paul Molitor to explain its significance. Here's the problem in a nutshell. We need and want an interoperable smart grid. To achieve that, we need interoperability testing. To get fast, inexpensive testing, we need to create a competitive market, so manufacturers have a choice where to get certification.


But if we have a competitive market, then manufacturers face the hurdle of mastering several - perhaps even dozens - of different testing programs. As you will read, this new standard solves that problem while retaining choice and competition. - By Jesse Berst


By Paul Molitor


Those of you who follow ANSI standards may have noticed that NEMA recently received final approval for a standard titled, "Smart Grid Interoperable & Conformant Testing and Certification Scheme Operator Guidelines” (ANSI/NEMA SG-IC 1-2013). Given the nature of the smart grid, NEMA’s expectation is that electrical manufacturers will bear the greatest burden as we strive to bring interoperability to smart grid programs and applications.


So why develop a new standard? To bring consistency and portability to interoperability testing and certification.  In 2012, the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP, www.sgip.org) published version 2 of its Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM).  The SGIP envisions a marketplace of interoperability testing and certification authorities (ITCAs).


The challenge and danger

NEMA has neither the ability nor the desire to become the ITCA for our entire product scope. We became concerned that manufacturers who sell to multiple utility companies would have to master the testing programs of dozens of different ITCAs.  The prospective overhead burden on manufactures of all stripes - whether members of NEMA or not - could become unbearable.

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