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Energy Infrastructure Modernization

Energy Infrastructure Modernization

Smart Grid

In recent years, state regulators have seen a surge in utility smart grid investments, from advanced metering infrastructure to smart appliances and distributed energy resources. In their role protecting the public interest, state regulators who oversee these utility investments seek to balance benefits and costs; one way to prudently leverage new technologies is by ensuring new components are interoperable and future-proofed. NARUC has partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to educate regulators on the value of smart grid interoperability and technical standards that support it.

  • Reports on Interoperability for the Smart Grid

    This document contains over a dozen reports on interoperability for the Smart Grid published by NIST, NARUC, and other relevant organizations. These resources were designed to benefit regulators and the utility industry as smart grid standards are considered by regulators and utilities.

  • Understanding Cybersecurity for the Smart Grid: Questions for Utilities, December 2020

    This paper explores cybersecurity topics associated with the continued technology-driven evolution of the electric grid. It includes questions that PUCs might ask utilities to better understand how they are assessing and mitigating challenging new risks. Concepts in this paper draw from seminal works by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is a complement to Understanding Cybersecurity Preparedness: Questions for Utilities, a component of NARUC’s Cybersecurity Manual.

  • Smart Grid Learning Modules

    The Smart Grid Learning Module series includes short videos for state utility commissions on the economics of interoperability, operational considerations for interoperability, and roles and responsibilities of state regulators. Accompanying the modules are a glossary and recommended reading.

  • Smart Grid Interoperability: Prompts for State Regulators to Engage Utilities, April 21, 2020

    As technologies proliferate across the electricity network, interoperability is increasing in importance to enable communication, coordination, and integration of more components essential to the network— some of which may not be owned by the utility. Interoperability is a means to ensure that operational network components work collaboratively and efficiently with each other. Investments that emphasize interoperability can improve reliability and security, reduce design and installation costs, and enable new services by preserving competitive innovation. This paper outlines roles, responsibilities, and actions that a state regulator may consider in its review of utility proposals for investments in smart grid technologies to ensure these investments align with good interoperability practice.

  • Evolution of the Distribution System & the Potential for Distribution-Level Markets: A Primer for State Utility Regulators, January 2018

    This paper provides an overview of the evolution of the 20th Century Electricity System and considerations for distribution-level markets and market services that states and utility companies might need. It explores how the electric industry is undergoing a shift toward a two-way power flow among the bulk electric system, the distribution system, end-users, and distributed energy resources (DERs) located both behind the meter and in front of the meter. Additionally, policy, operational, and functional considerations for distribution system planning need to be taken into account by regulators as they are embarking on grid modernization initiatives in their states. Distribution systems will need innovative approaches for system operation, grid planning, interconnection procedures, and coordination with transmission system and wholesale markets to handle higher DER penetration rates, and still remain secure and reliable.

  • NARUC-NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Regional Roundtables, Fall 2019

    NARUC and NIST jointly held four one-day regional meetings to support development of NIST’s Smart Grid Interoperability Framework version 4.0, which reflects structural changes and increasing system complexity in the grid. The roundtables gathered input from NARUC members and stakeholders (utilities, services providers, technology suppliers) on the updated Framework, as well as on regional issues that need consideration. A Summary Report is available.


NARUC is grateful to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Activities are coordinated with the Staff Subcommittee on Electric Reliability and Resilience.

Join the NARUC Smart Grid ListServ to receive information on NARUC, NIST, and related events relevant to state utility commissions. View the listserv registration page to learn how.

NARUC staff experts who support these activities include:

Kerry Worthington