From Christmas Lists to the Nascar Hall of Fame!

December 16, 6:03 pm

It’s December 15, and though I made some progress on my Christmas list, I think that I will always be a bit of a last-minute “Christmaser” – maybe because I like to extend the Christmas feeling to the very end. Whatever the cause, I am thankful for Amazon overnight delivery.

Since the beginning of the month, we have been pretty busy at UTC (so maybe that is my real excuse for this year’s Christmas procrastination?). We are gearing up for 2017 by putting the finishing touches on the Q1 Journal, finalizing the Strategic Membership Plan (to be rolled out in January), ensuring that the schedule for the UTC Board meetings, regional meetings, and other UTC meetings are in place, and ramping up our preparations for the annual UTC Telecom and Technology Conference in Charlotte from May 8-12.

joys-blogOn the latter, several of us went to Charlotte with some of our outstanding event sponsors for a site visit to preview the locale and meet again with our host utility, Duke Energy. At the behest of our marketing guru, Bobbi Harris, we also filmed a promotional video about the conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and at Duke’s headquarters.

The annual UTC gala will take place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is attached to the Charlotte Convention Center – ideal for our attendees. The gala will happen on Thursday this year, instead of its usual Wednesday night spot, so that we can use the Hall of Fame for the event. And, let me be blunt…it is so cool and will inspire some great networking and fun competition! Our keynote motivational speaker is a pit boss for NASCAR as well and will talk about the importance of teamwork. Duke’s CIO, Chris Heck, will also speak as will Nebraska Public Power District’s CEO, Jim Pope, who has been a huge supporter of UTC’s current Board Chair, Matt Schnell. In addition, the conference will feature a roll out of the new UTC Foundation, which promotes the utility technology workforce. Another exciting new activity at the conference will be a demonstration of “smart systems” on the show floor. The bottom line is, be there or, well, you know…

In terms of other UTC happenings, if you have been following the policy activities by reading UTC’s Industry Intel, you know that we were included in a recent meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s “Internet of Things” Working Group, which is an informal group interested in the internet of things and gathering information on the topic from relevant industry groups. The Working Group is led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Members Bob Latta (R-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT), and the meeting was attending by four other Members of Congress – Reps. Larry Buschon (R-IN), Pete Olson (R-TX), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY). The group has met several other times with other industry representatives, but this meeting was focused on the energy industry. The discussion was wide-ranging about issues like energy efficiency, workforce, enabling “smart” technology deployment and, of course, cybersecurity.

As Greg Walden (R-OR), the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, builds out his agenda for the year my expectation is that the Members of the Committee involved in the Internet of Things Working Group will, at the least, push for hearings on the issue and may also develop legislation that could fall under either the energy subcommittee or the telecom subcommittee, or both. We will continue to engage in these activities and report on developments. We are also meeting with Members of Congress and Senators in a strategic way, especially leading into the next Congress, and will do the same with the new folks in the Administration. The bottom line is that education and engagement will be key overall, not just on the Internet of Things issue, but on all of UTC’s policy issues, and will result in increased understanding of the critical nexus between energy and telecom/technology.

Until we meet again…happy holidays, and may you have a wonderful time with your family and friends over the next few weeks – whether or not you have managed to get through your Christmas list!