On October 26, NIST will host the IEEE-SA/NIST Timing Challenges in the Smart Grid Workshop. The result of the workshop is to enable stakeholders to delve further into their issues in wide area precision clock synchronization in current and future power systems, and to collaborate in prioritizing key research and standards activities. A NIST report summarizing the challenges of wide area clock synchronization and potential solutions will be drafted.


Dynamic distributed measurement and control systems are time sensitive. In distributed control where scheduling of resources, seamlessly orchestrated coordination, and hard deadlines; must be met, measurement data, state estimators and control commands are temporally valid for a specific, sometimes brief, duration. In order to provide the common time reference for correct temporal behavior, all systems must be synchronized to a traceable time and frequency source.

In the North American power grid, where each interconnection stretches over a large spatial expanse, achieving correct timing can be challenging. Timing needs include one microsecond synchronization to a traceable time and frequency reference for data fusion. Issues include, but are not limited to, GPS and communication infrastructure as well as concerns for reliability and resilience; if a reference source becomes unavailable.

Workshop Objectives

To clearly identify and analyze the practical challenges that are currently being experienced in wide area time synchronization in current measurement and control deployments as well as timing-related barriers that prevent the power industry from realizing future measurement and control technologies. Workshop organizers plan to initiate discussion on potential solutions and evaluate the need for standard and metrology enhancements.

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