If you’re looking for information on smart grid standards, this Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) guide by Green Building Elements is a perfect place to start. SGIP is a public-private partnership created to develop and promote voluntary consensus standards for the smart grid.

What Is the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel?

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) is a nonprofit organization created to help ensure the integration of emerging smart grid technologies. It is an advisory board to the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB). 

The NAESB is a nonprofit organization that coordinates with other standard-setting entities to ensure that new smart grid technologies are interoperable. 

The SGIP is also responsible for developing prototype standards and guides to provide a framework so that smart grid technologies can communicate with each other.

The SGIP is an association of public and private sector organizations working together to develop, test, and certify smart grid technologies. 

The goal of the SGIP is to ensure that different elements of the smart grid can work together flawlessly, increasing reliability and home energy efficiency for a future energy grid. 

For example, a new set of solar panels on your roof or an efficient smart home thermostat installed into modular buildings such as data centers, classrooms or offices, emerging renewable and smart technologies represent a big step toward a more sustainable future.

However, much of their benefits will remain untapped unless the power grid is managed in a much more smart and flexible way, this is where the SGIP can help.

The organization comprises representatives from government agencies, utilities, technology companies, and other interested parties.

The SGIP comprises over 750 member organizations representing 22 stakeholder categories, including federal agencies and state and local regulators. 

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to oversee the development of standards to achieve smart grid system interoperability. 

The SGIP does not develop standards directly. It provides a forum and procedure for stakeholders, including NIST, to interact and advance standards for smart grid devices and systems interoperability.

Who Runs the Organization?

The SGIP comprises three central bodies: the Board of Directors, the Technical Steering Committee, and the working groups. 

The Board of Directors directs the progress of the SGIP, while the Technical Steering Committee oversees the development of interoperability standards. The working groups are responsible for creating specific criteria for different aspects of the smart grid.

The SGIP comprises two main working groups: the Architecture and Standards Working Group (ASWG) and the Implementation and Operations Working Group (IOWG). The ASWG is responsible for developing architecture standards, while the IOWG is responsible for developing operational standards.

As one of the working groups, the Architecture Group develops a common architecture for the smart grid, which will provide a framework for implementing the SGIP standards. This group maintains a conceptual reference model for the smart grid and develops corresponding high‐level architectural principles and requirements.

The Cybersecurity Group is developing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for the smart grid. The CSWG comprises members from various organizations and industries, including utilities, state utility commissions, privacy advocacy groups, academia, smart grid appliance, applications vendors, information technology engineers, and information security practitioners. 

The Testing and Certification Group is working on a testing and certification program for products that meet the SGIP standards. 

The Smart Grid Testing & Certification Committee (SGTCC) is part of the SGIP. SGTCC enables industry testing and certification programs for smart grid interoperability.  

What Are the SGIP’s Goals?

The SGIP’s primary goal is to help ensure that the various components of the smart grid can communicate with each other. A truly smart grid will require a range of different technologies to work together seamlessly. 

The SGIP has developed several standards and certification programs that help ensure interoperability. All stakeholders in the industry need to work together, but it can be difficult when so many different companies and organizations are involved. 

SGIP has created an open forum where members can share information about their products, services, and solutions with one another. This forum helps them stay up-to-date on new developments in the industry while also helping them identify potential areas for collaboration. 

The goal is to share critical issues and find solutions to advance the interoperable smart grid. SGIP is responsible for mapping out a roadmap, identifying critical issues, and creating potential answers. SGIP also helps identify gaps in the market and potential areas for collaboration. SGIP has several benefits for members, including: 

  • A forum to share information about products, services, and solutions
  • Stay up-to-date on new developments in the industry
  • Identify potential areas for collaboration
  • Mapping out a roadmap
  • Identify critical issues
  • Create potential solutions
  • Identify gaps in the market
  • Potential areas for cooperation

History of the Organization

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) created a policy to modernize the country’s electricity transmission and distribution system. Reducing costs, prioritizing customer choice, and accessing global markets for smart grid technology are the primary focus areas for this project. 

Smart grid protocols are detailed in EISA and in a 2011 National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) report, which advocates for creating standards to ensure that today’s investments in the smart grid remain innovative and valuable. 

In 2009, the Obama Administration created the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel as a public/private partnership. Demand for electricity places a dangerous burden on the aging grid, so a plan for a new system is required. 

In 2012, the Department of Energy (DOE) revealed a plan to improve the electric grid. One of their main goals is implementing redundant technologies to ensure that if one part of the grid fails, it won’t cause failures in different country areas. 

In 2013, the SGIP transitioned to a nonprofit private-public partnership organization, SGIP 2.0, Inc., supported by industry funding and a cooperative agreement with NIST. The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel works to develop a system to guide how the industry proceeds. 

The panel members have expertise in various energy specialties, including information and communication technology providers, utilities, academia, manufacturers, storage containers and consumers. 

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel has developed five primary objectives: 

  • Developing a Trusted Infrastructure: The panel is working to create a secure and resilient infrastructure for the smart grid that will be able to withstand physical and cyber threats.
  • Enabling Standards-Based Technologies: The panel is developing and adopting consensus-based standards for technologies used in the smart grid.
  • Promoting Innovation and Deployment: The panel is working to provide a framework for fostering innovation and accelerating the deployment of smart grid technologies. 
  • Addressing Consumer and Privacy Concerns: The panel is working to create a framework for addressing consumer and privacy concerns.
  • Fostering Collaboration among Stakeholders: The panel promotes dialogue and discussion on how different stakeholders (e.g., utilities, consumers, and manufacturers) can collaborate and work together towards shared goals.

What Is California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program?

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) is not to be confused with the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) which provides rebates and incentives for installing and utilizing specific energy storage systems in California.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversees the program, and a limited amount of funding is available each year for qualifying homeowners and businesses. 

These systems include battery arrays for use during electrical outages. The batteries remain charged for several hours of use and function as an emergency backup for wildfire season. 

CPUC funding goes to low-income individuals, those potentially requiring medical assistance during emergencies, and customers in areas with a high risk of wildfires. Wind farms and fuel cells are other technologies covered by the program’s mandate.    


  • What Is a Smart Grid?

    A smart grid is a network of electricity-generating devices connected to the internet. The devices within the grid can communicate, which enables them to exchange data on power levels. This communication allows for a two-way flow of information, which helps improve the grid’s efficiency and reliability.

  • How Do Smart Grids Work?

    A smart grid requires two-way communication to function, so it is possible to control the flow of electricity in either direction. This flow means at least two ways to shut off power when necessary.

    The technology allowing communication between customers and their utility classifies the grid as a smart grid. As with the internet, the smart grid is made up of computers, controls, and automation. These technologies can interact with the grid to respond to the rapidly changing demand for electricity.

  • How Can Smart Grids Benefit Society?

    The smart grid will propel the energy industry toward becoming more efficient, available, and reliable.

    It will be essential to perform improvements, testing, education, creation of regulations and standards, and sharing information to be certain that the planned benefits for the smart grid come to fruition.

    A blackout can cause multiple failures impacting industries, including banking and security. During winter, this is especially dangerous when people lose heating.

    A smart grid will increase the durability of the power system and increase its ability to handle emergencies like terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and storms.

    The smart grid automatically changes route during equipment malfunctions or power outages with its two-way communication capability. This rerouting will minimize the impact when outages take place.

  • Where Does a Smart Grid Get its Power?

    A smart grid gets its power from traditional and renewable energy sources. The grid also gets power from the customer side, where a lot of innovation is happening.

    Net metering is already available in many states for people to generate their power at home. Net metering uses a meter that records power flows back into the grid and credits the consumer.

    The smart grid will improve net metering programs. For instance, a utility could pay more for customer-generated power during peak power demand while paying less for off-peak power.

    Such a pricing structure will encourage homeowners to minimize energy use during peak demand periods to maximize the amount of power fed to the grid.

  • How do Smart Grids Compare to Other Sources of Power?

    Various sources are used for the power generation of the grid, including power plants, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectricity. Nuclear power plants run steadily and can’t easily adjust their output in the short term.

    On the other hand, power plants that are natural gas-fired can be dialed up or down at a moment’s notice. That’s why these generators help to meet sudden consumer demand like peaks for air conditioner usage in a heatwave.

    Solar and wind are variable technologies. These systems provide electricity whenever available, presenting a challenge for the grid to remain balanced. These energy sources will continue to become more valuable as battery technologies advance.

    This is why integrating natural resources, such as natural gas, on the grid is so important – it solves the intermittency issues experienced by solar and wind energy.

  • What Is Interoperability in the Smart Grid?

    NIST defines interoperability as the capability of systems, devices, applications, data, and people to work together within and across organizational boundaries to achieve desired outcomes.

    In the context of a smart grid, interoperability is the ability of different parts of the grid, including generation, transmission, distribution, and customer-side equipment, to:

    • Communicate with each other seamlessly and securely,
    • Share information and resources
    • Collaborate to optimize grid operations.
  • How Are Smart Grids Protected From Attacks?

    Smart grids stay protected from attacks by authentication, authorization, and encryption.

    However, for smart grids to safely connect to other networks, they must have a way to exchange information freely. This open data format is called the SmartGrid Information Clearinghouse (SGC) in the electricity industry.

    Automation is also critical as more smart meters and other smart grid components come online. Utilities face significant cybersecurity threats that cannot be mitigated solely by hiring more security professionals.

    Machine learning algorithms and other automation technologies will help utilities remain current with any emerging threats.

    Cybersecurity is a serious safety issue for every organization. Cyber threats mustn’t bring down networks, expose customers’ private information and identity, or impact normal business operations.

  • What Are the Five Layers of Smart Grid Communication?

    The smart grid contains:

    • A power system layer
    • A control layer
    • A communication layer
    • A security layer
    • An application layer

    These layers show organizations can develop a smart grid. The power system layer refers to power generation, distribution, customer systems, and transmission.

    The control layer enables smart grid management functions, monitoring, and control, while the communication layer allows two-way communications in the grid.

    The security layer provides integrity, data confidentiality, availability, and authentication, while the application layer delivers smart grid applications to customers.


Creating a system requiring public and private entities from different industries and specialties to cooperate on a massive energy upgrade project is a serious undertaking. Many highly skilled individuals are currently working to make the smart grid a reality. 

The SGIP is an integral part of the smart grid puzzle, and its work is essential to the success of this growing industry. 

It’s important to have the SGIP in place if we want our energy infrastructure to evolve to the point where energy consumption can be monitored and controlled more efficiently than ever before.