At yesterday’s technical conference held by FERC, it was the general consensus that the five family of standards released by NIST are not ready. In his opening comments, Commissioner Moeller seemed to predict the not-too-distant future: “It will be long and difficult,” he warned. Certainly the Commissioner was referring to the development of the smart grid in general. However, those words rang true within the hour as speaker after speaker, sans NIST’s George Arnold, elaborated on the various reasons the standards were “not quite ready.” Many felt there was not enough industry participation. Andy Bochman, energy security lead for IBM and blogger on the Smart Grid Security Blog testified he felt the proposed standards are flawed from a security standpoint. Despite the need for further refinement, everyone agreed NIST has done an amazing job and the work done so far provides a great framework upon which to grow.

Commissioners La Fleur and Moeller both asked what can be done in the meantime given the standards need so much work. They really did not get a straight answer. So here’s my take: Given the amount of stimulus grants issued to deploy the smart grid, smart meters will be installed, infrastructure will be upgraded and the smart grid will start to evolve, standards or no standards. The utilities and the vendors they select will set the standard by virtue of their progress. These use cases are going live as we debate and explore the technicalities and will most likely provide the feedback we all seek, albeit expensive. What will work? What won’t?

FERC will accept additional comments through March 2, 2011. Reply comments will be due on March 16, 2011.