Electrical Business

News
USNAP Alliance and EPRI combine interface specifications for single standard


April 8, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

April 8, 2011

The USNAP Alliance and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have joined together to develop a single modular interface specification, which, they say, combine elements of the EPRI Demand Response Socket Interface Specification and the USNAP Alliance 2.0 specification. This effort was prompted by a request from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Home-to-Grid Domain Expert Working Group (H2G DEWG) to harmonize the two bodies of work, in preparation for delivery to a standards development organization.

“Consumers are already purchasing USNAP enabled products through
national retailers to help them manage their energy consumption," said
Jon Rappaport, chairman of the USNAP Alliance.

“This collaboration project unifies efforts in this area and simply
gives manufacturers, utilities, service providers and consumers access
to a larger number of consumer products that can react to energy related
information from utilities and ISOs,” he added.

According to both companies, there is research that indicates a standard
physical interface that allows smart appliances, energy management
consoles, and other consumer products to support different
user-installable communication modules is in the public’s best interest.

The EPRI collaborative research project, initiated in 2008, developed a
socket interface specification for residential devices that support
simple demand response commands and pass-through messages from a utility
or load controlling entity. The EPRI project engaged a number of
residential device manufacturers (water heaters, HVAC, pool equipment,
white-goods, consoles, etc.), communication technology providers (Wi-Fi,
AMI, PLC, HAN, Cellular, etc.) and electric utilities to identify
requirements and draft a specification.

The USNAP Alliance published its 2.0 specification in 2010 defining a
low-cost physical interface enabling appliances and other consumer
products to share energy related information from utilities and service
providers. Using the popular Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)
communication port found in most integrated circuits, the USNAP
Specification facilitates connectivity between Smart Grid Devices (SGDs)
and Universal Communication Modules (UCMs) installed in a Home Area
Network (HAN), Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN),
they explained.

“The two specifications are similar in technical approach and are nearly
identical in their basic purpose,” said Brian Seal, senior project
manager for EPRI. “Each has broad industry support and provides the
range of benefits associated with communication modularity. We are
making great progress in merging the specifications, retaining the best
attributes from each and coordinating with related standards
organizations."