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New standards speak to growing need for interoperability and security

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, July 18, 2013

New government approved standards are looking to make the country's electric grid more efficient and secure.

The United State's aging energy infrastructure can create challenges for utilities that are looking to secure and optimize the distribution of their electricity. Seeking to improve efficiency, power providers are starting to bring in new energy sources such as renewables, while improving the transmission of their current supply.

The difficulty comes in trying to make all the different technologies employed to make these improvements work together. To help this process, the National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has developed a set of guidelines ease the interoperability of smart grid improvements.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved NEMA's Smart Grid Interoperable and Conformant Testing and Certification Scheme Operator Guidelines to create a uniform method of implementing technology across the smart grid. 

The advantage of these new guidelines is that infrastructure in a rural landscape that provides electricity across a spread out customer base will meet the same strict standards to that of a dense urban environment. This way, utilities can ensure their electric grid are certified and work uniformly across the grid.

If not for these new standards, explains NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis, the country's utilities would not have a sound way of ensuring their new technology would be able to work with the existing infrastructure when it was installed.

 "Prior to the publication of these guidelines," he explains, "each utility would have been required to develop its own testing procedures for interoperability. This would have created a tremendous burden on manufacturers who sell the same product to multiple utilities."

Increasing communication and improving cyber security
These guidelines would help improve communication along the smart grid as the new devices would be able to work more seamlessly with one another. The need for this interconnectivity is partially contributing to the predicted growth in the Smart Grid communications market according to a TechNavio report.

The study expects that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.66 percent having started in 2012 and through to 2016. As this market grows, it is important that interoperability improve so that cyber security solutions can be applied to the new integrated technologies.

SUBNET is helping utilities improve their cyber security and interoperability through innovative IT solutions on their current infrastructure. Rather than making utilities upgrade or replace their electric grid, SUBNET provides solutions that leverage a utility's existing assets and provide unique solutions to improve grid transmission and reliability.

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