CEA forms smart grid interface standards committee

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) on Wednesday launched a new smart grid committee to advance standardization of the Modular Communications Interface (MCI) specification. The new standard will help manufacturers, utilities, service providers and consumers as it leads to more smart grid-ready products, says CEA.

The MCI specification, created by the Universal Smart Network Access Port (USNAP) Alliance and based on research from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), will enable manufacturers of consumer products to build smart grid-ready products that can obtain energy information from digital meters and energy system interfaces regardless of the communication technology used.

The USNAP Alliance will work with the CEA committee to support the industry adoption of the MCI standard through certification and test programs. EPRI will continue to provide research, conducting interoperability workshops through which prototype devices and demand response programs can be evaluated, says CEA.

“This committee is designed to accelerate the adoption and growth of smart grid-ready products,” says Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards, CEA.

At the request of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), independent modular interface initiatives from the USNAP Alliance and EPRI were merged into a unified specification that identifies the interface between a Universal Communication Module (UCM) and a Smart Grid Device (SGD). A NIST working group completed the MCI specification, and it was formally submitted to CEA to facilitate creation of the standards development project, says CEA.

“This new specification addresses a significant gap in the Smart Grid for a unifying technology that enables a range of consumer products to respond to demand response events,” says Brian Seal, technical executive, EPRI.

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