Back in September, the National Institute of Standards and Technology promised it would gather up smart grid industry and research leaders to help it choose standards for everything they plan to do from now on (see Smart Grid Standards Roadmap Unveiled).

On Thursday, that group was unveiled at the GridInterOp event in Denver, and a who's-who of power industry bigwigs – along with newcomers Google and Panasonic – have taken leadership roles.

Of course, there are more than 330 companies, utilities, universities and government entities on board. But they'll all be channeled through 23 "stakeholder category" groups, covering everything from in-home energy management and smart meter communications to how utilities and grid operation entities talk to one another (see Green Light post).

Being part of the process means shaping it, Adam Berney, partner at VC firm General Catalyst Partners, said Thursday on the sidelines of the GreenBeat conference in San Mateo, Calif. (see Green Light posts here and here).

Given that NIST's standards-setting process has been squeezed into a two-year timeframe or so – "much faster than these standards typically move" – utilities and vendors alike are no doubt eager to see their preferred standards take early leads, he said.

Many of the category leadership board spots – elected by and from the companies represented in each category – have gone to giants in the field.

Honeywell is in charge of commercial and industrial equipment and automation, for example, while Lockheed Martin Energy Solutions is in charge of independent power producers. ABB is in charge of power equipment makers, and GE Energy, utility Southern California Edison and the Electric Power Research Institute are the three "at large" board members.

As for the group that includes "information technology application developers and integrators," Vint Cerf – the scientist and one of the top contenders for the title "Father of the Internet" who's worked at Google since 2005 – is in charge.

Google's PowerMeter, a would-be free home energy web platform backed by the search giant's philanthropic arm, Google.org, has a growing list of utility and vendor partners. Microsoft's rival platform, Hohm, as well as some of the many products from startups in the space, are also lining up utility projects, though mostly in pilot-sized deployments (see Green Light post and Silver Spring Swallows Greenbox).

Google's main ideas for the smart grid? Data has to be free, and it has to belong to the consumer, Ed Lu, the former astronaut who leads the PowerMeter program, said Thursday at GreenBeat (see Green Light post).

As for the broadly titled "consumers – residential, commercial and industrial" category, Panasonic Electric Works Laboratory of America will take the leadership role. The Japanese electronics giant is seeking to buy rival Sanyo for $4.5 billion, and plans to make a concerted push into the U.S. energy market with advanced batteries, solar cells, home fuel cells, energy-smart appliances, LED lights, and other green technologies (see Panasonic: One of the Next Green Giants?)

Some categories haven't picked a board member yet. Electric transportation is still up for grabs, as is the category for electricity and financial market traders. So is the venture capital group.

Given that the smart grid industry is expected to balloon to anything from $20 billion to $165 billion over the next decade or two, those board spots are likely to be taken soon, though.

NIST has set some deadlines on reporting on its progress on various key goals. A plan for common scheduling mechanisms for energy transactions is due by year's end, and plans for demand response signals, energy use information and electricity pricing are due early next year.

Due in mid-2010 are standards for wireless communications, electricitystorageinterconnection and guidelines for the use of internet protocol (IP) in smart grid deployments – a big question in the industry.