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Are Utilities in the U.S. Utilizing the IEC CIM?

During a recent meeting, a potential client asked me if utilities in the U.S. were utilizing the IEC CIM. As the vendor co-chair of the IEC CIM User Group, this is a topic that is always top of mind. First, let’s review the IEC CIM and implications it may have for U.S.-based utilities.

What is the IEC CIM?

The IEC CIM is a framework for utilities to support data management, integration and analytics. The goal of the IEC CIM is for utilities to use an agnostic data model —one that is not tied to a specific technology or vendor— to ensure interoperability with the smart grid. It is a comprehensive industry model with well-defined data and associations for:

  • Transmission (IEC CIM 61970)
  • Distribution (IEC CIM 61968)
  • Market Communications (IEC CIM 62325)

Since the IEC CIM is recognized as a worldwide utility standard, one may assume that all utilities would be utilizing this standard. However, over my 14 years in the industry, I still encounter individuals and companies that are unaware of the standard. Companies that are not utilizing IEC CIM are spending time, money and valuable resources developing their own solution from “scratch.” Unlike the landscape in Europe, there is no regulatory body in the U.S. mandating the use of the IEC CIM.

ENTSO adopted the IEC CIM and modified it for the European market, so that it is a requirement for exchange of the network model. This modification essentially mandates a partial use of the IEC CIM. It covers much more than just the network model, it also includes data for assets, work, meters, customers and more.

Market Value in billion U.S. dollars

Graph taken from:

To understand how prevalent the IEC CIM is within the U.S., we can look at a subset of the industry. This chart, from Statista, lists the 10 largest utilities organizations as of April 2019, totaling a $465.7 billion in market value. Xtensible is actively working with six of the 10 on IEC CIM-related project implementations. With this data, the answer to the question is YES!

IEC CIM is clearly being adopted by large organizations, but what about the mid and small market segments, or even other international market segments?

Xtensible has active projects with several small to midsize companies throughout North America, including both the U.S. and Canada. In my opinion, small and midsize utilities benefit even more from the IEC CIM than larger organizations. IEC CIM allows for a common definition of the data which reduces the resource time and long-term spending requirements, which is more valuable to small and midsize utilities with limited resources. When looking at other international markets, Xtensible has performed IEC CIM-based work around the globe including current projects in Europe and Africa, along with recent projects for multiple companies in Colombia, Chile, Jamaica, the Middle East and even Australia.

I have always said that within utilities people come and go, processes change, technology is updated or replaced; but the data is always persistent.



• WEBINAR: What is the IEC CIM and how are utilities utilizing it? Position your company now for the future

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