Smart grid communications firms form interoperability consortium

August 2, 2011 — The HomePlug Alliance, Wi-Fi Alliance, HomeGrid Forum and ZigBee Alliance have agreed to create a Consortium for SEP 2 Interoperability.

The consortium will enable organizations whose technologies support communications over Internet Protocol to certify SEP 2 according to a consistent test plan.

Recognizing that the vision of interoperable SEP 2 devices across the network will only be realized with consistent certification and interoperability testing, the consortium is being structured as an open organization. This cooperation among alliances builds on the work of many industries to bring smart grid benefits to consumers.

The joint certification and test program will be used to certify wireless and wired devices that support IP-based smart energy applications and end-user devices such as thermostats, appliances and gateways.

It will address devices operating on one or more of a variety of underlying connectivity technologies and provide the smart energy ecosystem — including utilities, product vendors and consumers — assurances of application and device interoperability.

SEP 2 was selected in 2009 by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a standard profile for smart energy management in home devices. The profile is suitable for operation on a variety of IP-based technologies.

This consortium establishes a communications technology-agnostic forum to unify and accelerate the realization of interoperable SEP 2 products through a joint test and certification program. The consortium intends to utilize the processes and best practices recommended by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel for smart grid testing and certification programs.

"As the hybrid wireless and wired home of the future takes shape, the need for easy interoperability becomes key," said Rob Ranck, president of HomePlug Alliance. "We are excited to bring HomePlug Alliance's strong expertise to this collaboration and help provide a robust certification program."

"The smart grid will be comprised of all types of devices connecting in many different ways, and we must ensure those devices interoperate and communicate seamlessly, regardless of how they connect," said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "This collaboration represents a groundbreaking step in the industry. Through this collaboration, the smart grid ecosystem will benefit from interoperable smart energy products that use some of today's most popular connectivity technologies."

"HomeGrid Forum, which is responsible for certifying and promoting G.hn technology, is excited to be working with other leading industry organizations to help accelerate the adoption of the smart grid throughout the world," said Matt Theall, president of HomeGrid Forum. "We believe SEP 2 will be an important factor in ensuring that wired and wireless technologies combine together to deliver smart grid and other services inside and outside the home and we are committed to using our expertise to help drive industry adoption."

"As the organization that initiated the home smart energy standards activity, the ZigBee Alliance is committed to ensuring that the years of work invested by a broad stakeholder community in developing it translates into success in the marketplace," said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. "The ZigBee Alliance is pleased to contribute its considerable experience and expertise certifying smart energy products today to this new independent certification and testing consortium to ensure that consumers get smart products that are easy to use, independent of communications technology."

The consortium for SEP 2 Interoperability invites participation from other trade associations in communications technology that have an interest in developing an interoperable smart grid.

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