The U.S. Department of Commerce released Thursday, Sept. 24, the first 77 interoperability standards for the smart grid -- the next-generation digital system that industry and government officials say will revolutionize how the U.S. consumes and manages electricity.

The initial standards were distilled in a draft report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) via input provided in workshops attended by 1,500 private- and public-sector stakeholders.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the new developments at the GridWeek conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

"To use an analogy from the construction world, this report is like a designer's first detailed drawing of a complex structure," said Locke in a news release. "It presents a high-level conceptual model to ensure that everyone is on the same page before moving forward to develop more detailed, formal smart grid architectures. This high-level model is critical to help plan where to go next."

The report will be open to public comment for 30 days, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will choose which standards will be authorized. The final report is expected to be finished by the end of 2009.

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Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor