UTC Annual Telecom and Technology Conference Part Deux

June 9, 10:43 am

June 9, 2017

In reviewing my previous blog on the conference, it seems more comprehensive than I thought it would be given the “travel fog” I was in at the time of drafting (go me! – or, in reality, go the copious amounts of caffeine I was drinking!). So, I will spend a short time touching on one important item in more detail. In my next blog, I will talk about all things Africa Utilities Technology Council and how things went at African Utility Week in mid-May.

Here, the one issue/change from UTC Telecom and Technology that I want to delve into a bit further is moving the membership meeting from Friday morning to a general session on Thursday. We did this for two reasons: 1) to get more members there given that some have to travel back on Friday; and 2) in so doing, to begin to lay the groundwork for our new policy resolutions process that will be launched in 2018. A “policy resolution” is a position that an organization takes on a particular federal, state, or local policy or potential policy. Often these policy positions begin with a “whereas” clause that describes the situation/context for the position that the organization takes in the “resolved” clause. So, a very basic policy resolution by UTC could read something like this:

“Whereas the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) believes that electric, gas, and water utilities are critical to our nation’s economic prosperity and safety; and

Whereas these utilities deploy wireless communications technologies that require access to federally allocated spectrum to ensure deployment of reliable, safe, and affordable electric, gas, and water services; and

Whereas the use of wireless technologies for both mission-critical and customer service applications by utilities is only increasing (e.g.; drones and smart meters); and

Whereas the actions taken by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to allocate spectrum demonstrate its view that utilities are no more critical than a pizza delivery shop or a convenience store.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Utilities Technology Council supports federal spectrum allocation policies that recognize the critical nature of utilities such that utility access and use of spectrum is protected from interference from non-critical enterprises.”

UTC has not, to my knowledge, ever formalized its overarching policy positions in this way. We will do so beginning in 2018 with consideration of policy resolutions at the membership meeting on the Thursday of the annual conference in Palm Springs. The details on this process will be laid out to utility members such that they will be able to participate in the development of the draft resolutions should they so choose. Sharla Artz, UTC’s VP of Government Affairs for Policy & Cybersecurity, is spearheading the development of these details working with UTC’s Public Policy Division. If you have any questions about this or would like to become involved as these details are put in place, please contact Sharla Artz.

Development of this process is part of UTC’s Strategic Membership Plan, and is in fact, one of the nine goals under that plan to be addressed in 2017. I am excited to see how our utility members engage in this process and what issues they deem most important for UTC to consider right off the bat as our first policy resolutions in 2018. Since policies can change or become more specific over time, we will consider our resolutions annually at the conference from here on out. The bottom line is that clarifying our positions for ourselves and for policy makers in this manner will foster healthy discussion within the membership and show our friends and foes alike that we are serious about our advocacy. Until we meet again…