Alliance formed to extend smart grid to homes


Barry Haaser,
U-SNAP Alliance
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 4, 2009 – The Utility Smart Network Access Port (U-SNAP) Alliance, comprising a group of utility industry leaders representing utilities and manufacturers, has been launched to extend smart grid to energy aware consumer products.

The mission of the Alliance is to create a protocol independent serial interface standard that enables any HAN (Home Area Network) standard, present and future, to use any vendor’s smart meter as a gateway into the home, without adding additional hardware in the smart meter.

“This is the equivalent of USB for consumer products,” said Barry Haaser of the U-SNAP Alliance. “This important industry standard allows utilities to continue smart meter deployments, while enabling a new generation of products to connect to smart meters by simply inserting a U-SNAP card into the product.”

The U-SNAP specification defines the hardware interface, physical dimensions, data transfer, message contents and protocol specifics for HAN devices. The root of the specification relies on the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) port found on most communication chips as the transport layer.

The Alliance fosters collaboration and education among utilities, AMI suppliers, HAN vendors, industry consultants, academics and regulators who seek interoperable, secure and cost effective solutions for extending the smart grid to energy aware consumer products.

The Alliance will create and publish a standard, establish testing and certification procedures for product conformance and educate consumers, utilities and vendors on the benefits of the standard.

Several U-SNAP cards are available through traditional retail channels, supporting ZigBee, Z-Wave, RDS (Radio Data System), WiFi and FlexNet. U-SNAP cards for other industry protocols are under development.