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Empowering the Smart Grid Transformation


A reliable, secure energy supply is vital to our economy, our security, and our well being. A key component of achieving a reliable and secure energy supply is the "smart grid" initiative. This initiative is a modernization effort that employs distributed sensing and control technologies, advanced communication systems, and digital automation to enable the electric power grid to respond intelligently to fluctuations in energy supply and demand, the actions of consumers, and market forces with an overall objective to improve grid efficiency and reliability. A smart grid will also allow homeowners to track energy consumption and adjust their habits accordingly. This posting describes several initiatives that the SEI has taken to support power utility companies in their modernization efforts to create a smart grid.

As power utility companies consider modernizing their existing grids to create smart grids, they must develop effective roadmaps and track progress against these roadmaps. The Smart Grid Maturity Model (SGMM) is a framework that helps utilities plan smart grid implementation, prioritize options, and measure progress. With support from the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability--along with input from a broad array of stakeholders--the SEI has helped formulate and host the SGMM as a resource for industry transformation. For example, the SEI trains industry experts to serve as SGMM Navigators, who work directly with electric utilities in support of their grid modernization efforts.

One of the primary roles of an SGMM Navigator is to lead a utility through the SGMM Compass Survey assessment tool, which collects performance data and evaluates characteristics of the utility's smart grid progress. Compass results allow the utility to compare its progress with other utilities that have completed the survey. The results also provide the utility with a measure of its progress across the following eight domains of the model, which describe logical groupings of smart grid-related capabilities and characteristics:

  • Strategy, Management, and Regulatory (SMR) describes characteristics that enable the organization to align and operate to achieve its desired smart grid transformation.
  • Organization and Structure (OS) focuses on internal changes that are needed in culture, structure, training, communications, and knowledge management to achieve smart grid implementation.
  • Grid Operations (GO) describes characteristics that support the reliable, efficient, secure, safe, operation of the electrical grid. Many characteristics in this domain express the transition from manually-intensive operation of the grid to more automated operation.
  • Work and Asset Management (WAM) describes characteristics that optimize the management of grid assets and workforce resources. It's about people and equipment that are central to meeting the smart grid goals. It includes characteristics about asset monitoring, tracking, and maintenance and issues related to supporting the mobile workforce.
  • Technology (TECH) describes the information technology (IT) architecture that supports smart grid implementation including the adoption and implementation of standards, infrastructure, and the integration of various technology tools across the utility to support smart grid transformation.
  • Customer (CUST) describes the characteristics that enable the customer's participation toward achieving the benefits of the smart grid transformation with the utility. The CUST domain addresses issues associated with pricing, customer participation (both passive and active) and the customer's experience through that participation. It also addresses issues associated with advanced services that the utility might make available using smart grid functionality to serve customers better.
  • Value Chain Integration (VCI) describes the characteristics that allow the utility to successfully manage the interdependencies with the supply chain for the production of electricity and the demand side for the delivery of electricity. Many of the smart grid features have to deal with supply and demand management. Also, in this domain we find issues associated with leveraging market opportunities through smart grid automation.
  • Societal and Environmental (SE) enables the utility to contribute to achieving societal goals regarding the reliability, safety, and security of our electric power infrastructure. This domain addresses both the quantity and sources of energy used, and the impact of the infrastructure and our energy use on the environment and quality of life. These issues are a major focus of many utilities that are beginning smart grid initiatives.

To complete the assessment, a SGMM Navigator leads a workshop with the utility's operations team. After the survey is complete, the Navigator facilitates a second workshop to review the findings with the utility and use the SGMM to set strategic goals or aspirations for smart grid implementation. The Navigators have access to detailed process scripts, checklists, and templates created by the SGMM team to facilitate the Navigation process. The SEI uses data collected through the Compass survey to guide future improvements to the model and report on the status of the grid modernization reflected by the community of SGMM users.

As of August 2011, more than 120 utilities around the world have used the SGMM as a management tool to help modernize the electric power grid and enable important advances in energy efficiency, reliability, and security. Some utilities have applied the model to regional and national roadmapping. In the summer of 2010, the SGMM team worked directly with the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), one of largest utilities in the world with 33.9 million customers, and the Mexican Energy Ministry, Secretaria de Energia de Mexico (SENER), on the first use of the SGMM at the national level to assist in developing a national smart grid roadmap.

The SGMM Navigator program is the latest tool from the SEI's Smart Grid Team, which has served as the steward of the model since 2009. In October 2010, the SEI published Version 1.1 of the Smart Grid Maturity Model, after piloting the model revisions with more than 30 small and large utilities. Changes in SGMM V1.1 include enhanced security coverage, a more refined architecture, and a more developed model, which now includes 175 characteristics. The model is part of a full product suite, which includes training, the Navigation process, and Compass, to support utilities in using SGMM to develop a roadmap for their smart grid transformation.

The SEI finalized SGMM version 1.2 (released on September 12, 2011), which includes revisions and additions to the organizational attributes and performance information collected through the Compass survey. The new data collected will support future research efforts on the effectiveness of smart grid implementation by providing a basis for performing correlation studies and other statistical tests on performance measurements and SGMM maturity profiles. This research may reveal patterns in SGMM maturity profiles that correlate positively to performance improvements. These correlations could suggest effective smart grid implementation patterns (as measured by SGMM) or may simply suggest areas for additional study.

Increasing the use of the Compass survey will support SEI research efforts by providing a larger data set for study. To support expanded use of the model by utilities, the SEI has created an opportunity for outside organizations to become SEI Partners and deliver SGMM Navigation services. To date, seven organizations have become SEI Partners for SGMM: Ebiz Labs, Horizon Energy Group, Infotech Enterprises America, IBM, and SAIC's RW Beck, TCS America, and Wipro and more than 30 industry experts from these organizations have been trained in leading the SGMM Navigation process. This pool of SGMM Navigators will help utilities succeed with their smart grid transformations and will provide a steady stream of data back to the SEI to support future research and analysis efforts.

Additional Resources:

For more information about the Smart Grid Maturity Model, please visit

To view a webinar on the Smart Grid Maturity Model, please visit

Most documents in the Smart Grid Maturity Model are available for download. For more information,

Three podcasts on the Smart Grid Maturity Model can be viewed at

A list of current SGMM Partners

Information for individuals interested in becoming SGMM Navigators

Information for organizations interested in becoming Partners for SGMM


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