New editing and revision process will give IEEE Color Books more flexibility

Inspectors, contractors and electrical engineers have used IEEE Color Books for decades to find practical solutions to questions on the design, installation, maintenance, and operation of industrial, commercial, and institutional electrical power systems.

The 13 Color Books — as virtually everyone in the industry knows — are a set of recommendations that reflect the best practices for calculating, coordinating, protecting and assuring the safety of power equipment and systems.

IEEE recently announced that the series is getting a makeover aimed at making the information easier to access and easier to revise. The books will still encompass the same content generally but they will be organized as 55+ IEEE “dot” standards. This will make revisions easier because the IEEE committee does not have to approve an entire volume of content when all that is needed is to promulgate just a few timely changes, ensuring that each “dot” standard version reflects the latest technologies and best practices for that topic.

Another advantage is that more experts are expected to share their knowledge under the new structure. In addition to the flexibility in the new review and publication process, IEEE is acknowledging the fact that publishing has evolved toward an online model, which besides being less expensive than printed books, allows numerous yet fast-turn update cycles, and makes the specific information users are looking for much more accessible to them.

Power engineering processes and procedures are evolving rapidly — particularly in light of the Smart Grid initiatives — and very specific information often needs to be retrieved in a timely manner. By creating a more user-friendly set of standards, IEEE will be able to meet those needs. Internally, IEEE will have a process that allows content to be revised, edited and balloted more quickly. In addition, the working groups that create the new standards will now have an opportunity to eliminate the redundant information that has found its way into multiple Color Books over time.

Eight working groups have already been formed, including one to write an introductory book that will provide an overview of the topics covered by the individual “dot” standards and provide references to the areas covered by each standard. The other seven working groups will develop or revise the dot standards.

Engineers recruited from across all power engineering disciplines will be needed to create the standards and while experts are welcomed, younger engineers can take advantage in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help to create standards that will define the industry over the next few decades.

The original Color books followed two tracks. Some dealt with specific facilities such as industrial plants (Gray Book), commercial buildings (Red Book), or heath care facilities (White Book). Other Color Books cover specific technical topics such as emergency and standby power systems (Orange Book), protection and coordination (Buff Book), power systems analysis (Brown and Violet Books), grounding (Green Book), powering and grounding sensitive loads (Emerald Book), and reliability (Gold Book). The Yellow Book covered maintenance, operation, and safety of industrial and commercial power systems.

The new resource, released over time in “dot” standard sections, will begin publication early in 2011. For any volunteers wishing to participate, please contact: Patricia A. Gerdon