Smart Grid Interoperability Test

Monday, November 27, 2017 @ 01:11 PM gHale


There was a week-long interoperability test for a key smart grid standard, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850, held last month.

This ten-part IEC standard relates to communications networks and systems in substations, and is an important standard for power utility automation.

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The interoperability test event, often referred to as a “plugfest,” was sponsored by the IEC 61850 Users Group, part of the Utility Communications Architecture International Users Group (UCAIug), and was held in New Orleans, LA, in October.

This biennial interoperability test event, held in the United States for the first time since its 2011 inception, provided an excellent opportunity for North American utilities to see firsthand the performance of IEC 61850 devices and their interoperability with other vendors’ products. With over 200 attendees, the participants included system integrators, vendors, and utilities. 

There were multiple tests conducted throughout the event, such as an Integrated Applications and Time Synchronization sub-group tests.

By working closely with industry teams and gaining firsthand knowledge of interoperability and testing challenges related to commercial implementation of IEC 61850 standards, NIST participated to allow the smart grid program to prioritize research and development activities that are most relevant to industry needs, including improving current test methodologies and future testing and certification efforts.

Lessons learned will also end up applied in NIST’s just completed Smart Grid Interoperability Testbed.

Based on the success of this event, the NIST smart grid team will explore additional opportunities to similarly engage with industry.



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