Microsoft Joins OASIS Standard For Smart Grids

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Microsoft puts aside past rivalry with OASIS over document formats, to joins its campaign for smart meter standards

international standards organisation OASIS has launched a new group aimed at developing standards to promote the adoption of so-called smart energy grids – and welcomed past rival Microsoft on board.

Open standards body OASIS said this week that it has formed the Energy Interoperation Technical Committee to develop web services for dealing with the communication systems for smart grids as well as pricing, reliability and emergency signals.

The announcement comes amid controversy over smart grids, with UK utilities accused of lobbying to limit them. The UK government plans to install them across Britain, and the US is spending $2 billion on smart grids. Meanwhile, US organisations are concerned over security issues.

Mimcrosoft’s support comes despite a past long-running rivalry between Microsoft and OASIS in an unrelated field, where Microsoft’s OOXML document format clashed with OASIS’ OpenDocument Format (ODF).

“Our work at OASIS will enable consumers to take advantage of lower energy costs by deferring or accelerating usage,” said William Cox, co-chair of the OASIS Energy Interoperation Technical Committee. “By enabling consistent data communication technology, the same model will be able to be used for homes, small businesses, commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and electric vehicles. The same communications could be used inside and outside microgrids in office parks, college campuses, and green neighborhoods.”

Microsoft is backing the new OASIS smart grid group despite past rivavly with OASIS. “Technology will play an increasingly important role in managing the global energy issues. We see interoperability as an important part of helping the industry to achieve the increasingly stringent environmental goals. Microsoft is proud to play a role in the development of such new standards through the OASIS Energy Interoperation Technical Committee,” said Troy Batterberry, business leader for Microsoft Hohm – the IT giant’s energy metering project, Hohm.

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Smart meters are end-user devices that monitor electricity usage and can be used by home owners and businesses to more accurately measure their power usage. Combined with other technology in electricity distribution systems, smart meters can be uses to create so-called smart grids and are a major part of government plans to meet carbon emissions targets, with the UK government planning to install smart meters in all homes by 2020.

But despite the popularity of the technology, there have been accusations that some power companies may not want their customers to have access to the technology. Last wee, the UK Local Government Association accused a coalition of power companies of lobbying the government to block the inclusion of wireless display units in the 2020 smart meter scheme.

Microsoft is currently embroiled in a court case in Switzerland over a closed government tender which has been heavily criticised by a group of open source companies.


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