The initial idea for USNAP emerged in 2007 when the California Energy Commission (CEC) was dealing with the question of how to enable consumer products (initially thermostats) to be built in an inexpensive way so that they could communicate with different utility systems for grid management.
Like the USB port on a PC, that allows a myriad of applications; the USNAP solution provides a common interface between the communications module and the consumer product (thermostat, energy display, appliance, water heater, residential gateway, load controller, PHEV etc.). The USNAP specification enables any Home Area Network (HAN) or Demand Response (DR) standard, present and future, to use any energy systems interface as a gateway, without adding additional protocol-specific hardware. By providing industry with a protocol independent serial interface, it is possible to make energy aware consumer products active participants in the Smart Grid, anywhere and everywhere.
The USNAP solution allows consumers to purchase Smart Grid “ready” products through traditional retail channels, and connect to utilities and other service providers through a pre-configured USNAP card. Once received, consumers simply “snap” the card into the open slot in a compatible product. The device can then connect and communicate.