AMI-SEC task force established

Erich Gunther,
Knoxville, TN, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 25, 2007 – EnerNex Corporation, a provider of engineering and consulting services for the electric power industry, has announced the formation of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Security Task Force (AMI-SEC) to define common requirements and produce standardized specifications for securing AMI system elements.

“The security of our electric power depends upon intelligent and mindful engineering at every level of the system,” said Darren Highfill, co-chairman of AMI-SEC. “We’ve been focusing on SCADA, the communications used to operate the grid, but AMI bumps the scale and complexity of the problem up by at least an order of magnitude.”

The utility-driven AMI-SEC is made up of security domain experts, standards body representatives, utility engineers and industry-leading vendors. The group will be co-chaired by EnerNex employees Erich Gunther and Darren Highfill, both experts in information security and utility communications architecture. The Task Force is currently meeting every six weeks in a General Session, while a core team meets every two weeks to work on documents and deliverables. AMI-SEC is under pressure to produce some usable specifications for utilities on the procurement path, while maintaining a viable evolutionary path for those just now looking at AMI.

AMI-SEC is one of several coordinated efforts by members of the electric utility industry focused on advanced metering infrastructure. All of these efforts fall under UtilityAMI, which was formed to define serviceability, security and interoperability guidelines for AMI and demand responsive infrastructure from a utility/energy service provider perspective. UtilityAMI is one of several working groups of the Utility Communications Architecture International Users Group, which represents all stakeholders involved in the development, application and improvement of utility communications standards and best practices.

AMI consists of everything needed to support an intelligent, communicating interface at the customer level – from the meter itself to the back-end applications associated with demand-response, billing and outage management. AMI is also widely gaining recognition as a foundational step in building a more intelligent electric power grid.

“AMI facilitates a whole new class of data visibility and operational control,” said Gunther. “We have to make sure we handle it with an appropriate level of care. We now have private customer data, premise load control potential and integrated disconnects scattered across millions of endpoints. We simply can’t afford to deploy something that will be broken six months after installation.”

Early adopters of AMI (Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, American Electric Power, Consumers Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric and Florida Power & Light) are all working together on this activity because they have recognized the value in leveraging each other’s work and speaking with a common voice.