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One of the critical items to achieving "off-the-shelf" interoperable products for industry consumption is the ability to know that a product’s claim of interoperability or conformance is true and trustworthy from the perspective of a purchasing department or consumer. This means, in most cases, these claims must be validated by third parties not beholden to the product vendors. Additionally, they must have the quality processes in place to verify the products meet the technical requirements as stated in the marketing literature.

With that end in mind, the SGIP’s Testing and Certification Committee has released several documents and programs to facilitate wide-scale interoperability in the smart grid. The primary document is the Interoperability Process Reference Manual (IPRM v2.0) which lays out the requirements for a product to claim interoperability and standards’ conformance. It also provides the quality processes necessary to add validity to a vendor’s claim of product interoperability and conformance in its marketing collateral. Interestingly, the IPRM is not just specific to the power grid; rather, it is general enough in nature to be used in any industry.

The SGIP Testing and Certification Committee believes there are approximately fifty standards which will require the level of testing and certification addressed by the IPRM.  Of those, seven are now implementing the IPRM methodology. The others are either not ready or not everyone understand the benefits. Benefits such as lower cost to install, integrate and/or implement.

As the IPRM achieves significant penetration in the smart grid industry, we expect significant benefits with reduced costs and reductions in time needed to implement and roll out networks and systems. First, less time in onsite testing is achieved by realizing clearer, easier, more-solid implementation of interoperability and cyber security across multiple vendors’ products.  Second, followers of the IPRM methodology will see reduced product cost over time because of increased competition among interoperable vendors.

In my next post, I’ll cover the relationship between cyber security and interoperability.

Best,

Rik Drummond CEO Drummond Group Inc

- An Accredited Test Lab and Certification Body by NAVLAP and ANSI
- Chair emeritus DoE’s Grid Wise Architecture Council
- Chair NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Panel’s Testing and Certification Committee

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