In compliance with the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has identified a set of existing standards that can support Smart Grid development and included on that list NRECA’s MultiSpeak, a software specification targeted to distribution cooperatives.
The new law assigned responsibility for coordinating the development of a “framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability” to NIST. While the federal agency is working on a framework for the longer-term evolution of standards, the expedited initial list will allow ongoing deployment of smart meters and other communications infrastructure to proceed.
"Ten years ago, the Cooperative Research Network, seeing the importance of interoperability for the more than 900 electric cooperatives who stood to benefit from new technology, launched the MultiSpeak initiative” explained Bob Saint, director of the MultiSpeak Initiative. "Any national effort to achieve interoperability would have to include MultiSpeak or risk blocking communication between the distribution cooperatives, who own 42 percent of the distribution infrastructure, and other components of the bulk power grid."
Saint acknowledged that much work remains. "The path to a Smart Grid charted by NIST in its initial report is daunting, but cooperatives are ready to collaborate on the effort."
The MultiSpeak specification, a project initiated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) for the over 800 electric distribution co-ops, originated almost a decade ago as a set of specifications enabling the integration of automation software. Since 2003, MultiSpeak has provided integration solutions for operations systems, including smart meters, SCADA and GIS. Over 300 utilities, including electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities in the Unites States as well as a number of utilities in North America and Europe, are using interfaces developed in consultation with the 45 vendors who make up the MultiSpeak Initiative.