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Repeated studies conducted by Newton-Evans Research have found that, for the most part, North American utilities plan to stay with DNP3 as the protocol of choice for communications between control centers and substations, and down into the distribution network.
Communications Protocol Usage
In late 2012, Newton-Evans Research Co. spoke with the president of the DNP3 user group, H. Lee Smith, concerning the outlook for continued distributed network protocol (DNP) development versus efforts for expanding the use of 61850. It certainly appears the ongoing collaborative efforts within the DNP organization, working with IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), will provide a road map for a translation/mapping capability between these two widely used protocols.
On June 28, 2010, IEEE announced a new collaboratively developed DNP standard that would benefit the worldwide smart grid and process automation industries. IEEE ratified the old DNP3 standard and gave it a new label: IEEE 1815.
When evaluating the outlook for IEC 61850 adoption among North American utilities, it is important to understand the rationale for continuing to rely on and extend the use of DNP3. There are several reasons for this seeming lag between standards available from the IEC and IEEE, and the speed of electric utility adoption in North America.