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NEMA unveils SGIC testing scheme at 2011 World Meter Design Congress


April 20, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

April 20, 2011

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has unveiled its Smart Grid Interoperable & Conformant (SGIC) testing scheme at the World Meter Design Congress in Dallas, Texas, earlier this week.

The announcement was made by Paul Molitor, assistant vice-president for Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects, who is also the former secretary of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP).

In his remarks, he contrasted a safety failure, such as the recent nuclear power incident in Japan, with an “interoperability failure,” such as the blackout in the northeastern U.S. and Canada in August 2003.

“The major event that started the blackout was a power line downed by a thunderstorm in Ohio,” he said. “The cascading nature of the failures, as the outage spread east to the utility companies along the eastern seaboard in the U.S. and north into the province of Ontario in Canada, is emblematic of an interoperability failure.”

Molitor explained that the SGIC program includes a management scheme for testing practices that is designed to be compatible with both existing global requirements placed on testing bodies by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and SGIP, a public-private partnership created by NIST to advance Smart Grid in the U.S.

With the scheme in place, manufacturers, utility companies, and test laboratories will ideally come together under NEMA’s management to identify points of interoperability in Smart Grid standards, and design test specifications that make sense to all parties.

According to NEMA, SGIC will accomplish these goals–

For stakeholders in the utilities:
• Meet demands for trusted equipment to fulfill interoperable business needs
• Strengthen confidence to invest in plans that expand customer understanding and energy-saving capacity

For government stakeholders:
• Meet government’s objective of ubiquitous access
• Ensure quality electrical service across the board

For stakeholders in manufacturing:
• Promote confidence for industry to build products that will be accepted in the market
• Ensure industry regulation and oversight of manufactured products

For consumers:
• Ensure that there are universal standards that provide ubiquitous access for Smart Grid applications
• Allow for “plug-and-play” experiences with products