FERC Declines to Institute a Rulemaking Proceeding on NIST-Recommended Smart Grid Standards

FERC Declines to Institute a Rulemaking Proceeding on NIST-Recommended Smart Grid Standards

Source: Cozen O’Connor’s Energy, Environmental and Utilities Group “News Concerning Recent Developments in Energy and Environmental Law” Newsletter, August 16, 2011

In an order released on July 19, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) declined to institute a formal rulemaking proceeding on smart grid standards, after FERC determined that five “families” of standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have not led to “sufficient consensus” on smart grid interoperability standards.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directs the FERC “to institute a rulemaking proceeding to adopt such standards and protocols as may be necessary to insure smart-grid functionality and interoperability in interstate transmission of electric power, and regional and wholesale electricity markets,” once the FERC has determined that NIST has developed a “sufficient consensus” on smart grid interoperability standards.

NIST’s standards focus on device and network communications, substation automation, control-center communications, and transmission and distribution data exchange. FERC’s order stated that “Commenters are nearly unanimous that we should not adopt these standards at this time, citing concerns with cyber security deficiencies and potential unintended consequences from premature adoption of individual standards.”

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