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News Release: NREL's DeBlasio honored by American National Standards Institute

Sept. 15, 2011

Dick DeBlasio, a research engineer with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has been named the 2011 winner of the Finegan Standards Medal by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 

The award is given once a year by ANSI for extraordinary leadership in the development and application of voluntary standards. DeBlasio will receive this year’s award on Oct. 12 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

DeBlasio headed the national effort to dovetail more than 3,000 utility technical interconnection specifications into one unifying standard, IEEE 1547 (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) for the North American Power Grid.

DOE and NREL established the Distributed Power Program in 1999 to bring together the people and resources to accomplish the 1547 unifying standard. The team researched and developed interconnection technology, validated the technology with rigorous testing, and streamlined its transfer to industry.

Without IEEE Standard 1547, interconnectivity would have been crippled, and renewable energy would be limited to stand-alone rooftop systems or bulk power generators. The NREL-led effort to develop and achieve approval of IEEE 1547 was the genesis of interoperability and interconnection of distributed renewable technologies.

The Standard was cited and recommended to the nation’s 50 Public Utility Commissions in the Energy Act of 2005.

The grid interconnection made possible by Standard 1547 spurred investment in the industry because smaller independent producers could now merge their energy into the larger power systems.

“That was the payoff. That, and that 1547 will be the basis for widespread use of renewable electricity on the electric distribution system,” DeBlasio said. IEEE and the International Electro-technical Commission are planning a dual-logo standard to further the use of the guidelines worldwide. “It’s amazing that our work has gone so far,” DeBlasio said.

DeBlasio’s follow-up DOE-supported work on interoperability, IEEE Standard P2030, is expected to be ratified by the IEEE next month. It guides how communications, computers and power functions will work together to optimize the grid’s interaction with loads. That interconnection and integration often is referred to as Smart Grid.

P2030, will guide how to dispatch renewable energy in a more predictable and useful way. A knowledge-based document, P2030 will aid engineers in grid design and guide the development of future standards.

The number 2030 was selected for the pending standard “on purpose, to set a goal and a mindset that we need to get to a modern grid by the year 2030,” DeBlasio said.

Seamlessly adding information and communications technology to the electric power grid was “a daunting task, yet critical to the success of the Smart Grid,” DeBlasio, NREL’s chief engineer for renewable electricity and end-use systems, said.

The P2030 effort should have taken four years but was shaved to two thanks to the efforts of 300 IEEE engineers, support from the DOE’s Office of Electricity and “superb” work by the IEEE staff and the NREL team, including Tom Basso, Connie Komomua, Josh Hambrick, Mike Coddington, and Ben Kroposki, DeBlasio said.

P2030 is a one-of-a-kind standard, so it is likely that it will be embraced internationally, he said.

Together, the interoperability guidelines of the two standards provide the reference models and interfaces for power, information, and communications technologies to integrate and operate future electric grids.

DeBlasio has been helping develop industry standards for four decades, and his interest in making sure that renewable energy be integrated into those standards goes back 34 years, when he first started at NREL as a project manager.

His motivation to get the job done came from the realization that while billions of dollars have been spent on research into renewables, they would have limited usefulness if they couldn’t be connected to the grid. “Interconnection was ultimately the answer,” he said.

ANSI oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in all sectors off the economy. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the nation’s quality of life.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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—William Scanlon