USNAP Alliance and EPRI to combine interface specifications towards a single standard for smart residential devices


Brian Seal,
Senior Project
Manager, EPRI
Nashville, TN, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 23, 2012 – The USNAP Alliance and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are to jointly develop a single modular interface specification combining elements of the USNAP Alliance 2.0 Specification and the EPRI Demand Response Socket Interface Specification.

This effort was prompted by a request from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Home-to-Grid Domain Expert Working Group (H2G DEWG) to harmonize the two bodies of work, in preparation for delivery to a standards development organization.

Research indicates that it is preferred to have a standard physical interface that allows smart appliances, energy management consoles, and other consumer products to support a variety of user installable communication modules. Such an interface could provide consumers and manufacturers with reduced risk of end device obsolescence due to evolving communication technologies. It would also provide flexibility for utilities, allowing the communication systems used for load management to be selected and evolved based on individual needs and circumstances. A modular interface can enhance customer choice, stimulate competition and foster innovation.

The EPRI collaborative research project, initiated in 2008, developed a socket interface specification for residential devices that support simple demand response commands and pass-through messages from a utility or load controlling entity. The project engaged a number of residential device manufacturers (water heaters, HVAC, pool equipment, white-goods, consoles, etc.), communication technology providers (Wi-Fi, AMI, PLC, HAN, cellular, etc.), and electric utilities to identify requirements and draft a specification.

The USNAP Alliance published its 2.0 specification in 2010 defining a low cost physical interface enabling appliances and other consumer products to share energy related information from utilities and service providers. Using the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) communication port found in most integrated circuits, the USNAP Specification facilitates connectivity between smart grid devices (SGDs) and universal communication modules (UCMs) installed in home, local and wide area networks (HAN, LAN, WAN).

“The two specifications are similar in technical approach and are nearly identical in their basic purpose,” commented Brian Seal, senior project manager for EPRI. “We are making great progress in merging the specifications, retaining the best attributes from each and coordinating with related standards organizations.”

“This collaboration gives manufacturers, utilities, service providers and consumers access to a larger number of consumer products that can react to energy related information from utilities and ISOs,” added said Jon Rappaport, chairman of the USNAP Alliance.