9/14/18  As I have watched the news accounts about Hurricane Florence moving into the Southeastern coastline this week, along with the alerts from our government partners (DOE, DHS) and electric sector colleagues (EEI, APPA, NRECA, and others involved in the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council), I have been reminded of the crucial nature of electricity and the high levels of dedication required of all utility personnel.    [caption id="attachment_18731880" align="alignright" width="293"] Crews Ready to Respond[/caption] By multiple accounts, at least 40,000 utility workers have been mobilized to help the Carolinas and Georgia in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.  These workers may be away from their families for days or weeks, depending on the severity of the storm.  Workers in other industries travel and spend time away from loved ones as well, but I can only think of a few that also require workers to perform highly technical tasks in often dangerous environments. ...

8/31/18 This week, we have all heard many things about the life of Senator John McCain and why the entire nation is mourning his death. I have a personal reason to do so – my stepfather, Captain Gerald (Jerry) Coffee, USN (Ret.) was a POW with him in Vietnam, and actually shared a cell with Senator McCain for part of that time. My father, Colonel John Ditto, USMC (Dec.), also was a contemporary of Senator McCain and they knew each other early on in their careers. When I came to Washington, D.C., in 1993 just after graduation from college and essentially jobless (although I had lined up a job waiting tables), my first stop was Senator McCain’s office. Of all of the places I had sent letters...

8/16/18 It is summertime, and while for some, summertime means basking in the sun at the beach or baking in the sun at swim meets, or, in the case of D.C. this year, getting rained on but still being hot, for others it means baseball…and more baseball. We have a couple of people on staff who-must-not-be-named, but what the heck, I’ll name them anyway – Sharla Artz and Rob Thormeyer – who are obsessed with baseball, and particularly with the Washington Nationals. Having lived in the D.C. area for about 25 years, I vividly remember many years sans Nationals Park when we had to trek up to Baltimore to catch a game, so even though my baseball fandom is comparatively minor vis-à-vis that of Sharla and...

7/27/18 Education UTC just completed a busy week with our Board of Directors here in Washington, D.C. Fondly termed “Board Week,” but not to be confused with “Shark Week” (#oneofmyfavoriteweeksoftheyearbutmykidscannothandlewatchinggreatwhitesharkseatsealssocanonlywatchatnight), we engaged in strategic planning and an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We also hosted a reception on Capitol Hill where we had participation from many of our fellow trade association colleagues. It was a great week, with a lot of interest and engagement from policymakers, kicked off by excellent coverage in Politico’s Morning Energy and Morning Tech on the morning of our advocacy day. Over the last few weeks, my blog has been focused on the key messages we delivered to policy makers this week...

7/19/18 Such is the tagline of the telecom carriers when referencing pole attachments. The rates, terms and conditions that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) has set for pole attachments for investor-owned electric utilities have become so skewed in favor of the attachers rather than the pole owners (now, primarily said electric utilities) that electric ratepayers are on the verge of paying all the costs of the attachments and O&M for huge, for-profit international telecom companies. Okay, but these telecom companies really want to eat the cake, too. So, now that the wireless side of these same entities are touting small cell wireless attachments for 5G, they want to bypass safety protections put in place decades ago. The electric lines are housed at the top...

7-12-18  For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you may be shocked at what I am about to say: Thank you to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) for moving forward on its proceeding to make more efficient use of the 4.9 GHz spectrum band. For those who may be reading this blog for the first time, the FCC is often at odds with utilities' critical communications needs, particularly related to its spectrum policy, and therefore, my views of many of the FCC’s actions are, shall we say, lacking in positive feelings. But in this instance, I am hopeful that the FCC’s Sixth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)in this proceeding could be positive for utilities. A number of years ago, the federal...

 6/27/18 My oldest daughter, Emma, is attending her first “away camp” this week. It’s going surprisingly well given the texts and pictures we’ve seen from the chaperones. I admit to having some mixed feelings – I miss Emma being home, but at the same time I am so excited for her to have this incredible experience and meet some potentially lifelong friends. Having just completed fourth grade, she is also still learning about how to treat others in a group dynamic (and how to stand up for herself when others may not be treating her well) – this camp is perfect for that type of learning given its mission and the input of older counselors to help create these foundational notions of fairness. But, I do...

Friday, June 07, 2018 I have had some “blog writer’s block” (blogger’s block?) over the last week – the first time in almost two years of writing this blog that I have had that experience. It finally hit me as to why: my kids are in the last few weeks of the school year and I have no time to think about anything – every single waking moment is filled. Why should it matter to this blog that all my free-time is filled? Because those free moments are when my mind usually “percolates” and makes connections that manifest themselves in the blog. With no time for that to happen, I have had blogger’s block. So, to clear my head (and to generate sympathy for my current scheduling...

Friday, May 18, 2018 My daughter, Charlotte, who is six years old and in kindergarten, is a confident child. However, in the few weeks leading up to UTC’s annual conference, she had a stomach bug and some ongoing stomach issues, which, I think, diminished her normal confidence and resilience while at school such that she started to have some “issues” with her classmates. While I think these issues had been there all along, my guess was that her physical discomfort left her more susceptible to the slight mean girl nature of most kindergarten girls. It came out that one of her friends was covering her ears every time Charlotte would try to talk to her. My immediate, and unstated, reaction to this was, “the little snot.” But...

Monday, April 30, 2018   According to Merriam-Webster, an oasis is “something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast.” Anyone who’s anyone knows that the tag line for this year’s UTC’s Telecom & Technology Conference in Palm Springs is “The Oasis of Utility Education and Training.” Apropos to the desert, where oases were havens from thirst and hunger, the real meaning for our attendees is to get away from your everyday work lives to learn about the latest and greatest technologies in our utility ICT world, to establish or maintain friendships in the industry and to free up your minds to think more strategically on behalf of your utilities given the ongoing change in the industry. Our goal for the conference is to make it all of these...

Friday, April 13, 2018 ALERT, ALERT, ALERT – Proceed with caution, proud Mom moment on the horizon… With that disclaimer, for those who are still reading, I’m excited to report that my daughter, Emma (10), performed this week at the Kennedy Center – yes, that Kennedy Center. Emma is part of the Children’s Chorus of Washington, a group that was invited to perform with the Albany Symphony as part of the SHIFT Festival; According to the Kennedy Center website: “SHIFT celebrates the vitality, identity, and extraordinary artistry of orchestras and chamber orchestras by creating an immersive festival experience in the nation's capital. The week-long festival is composed of mini-residencies, with each participating orchestra presenting education events, symposia, and community events in venues around Washington, D.C., along with...

Friday, March 30, 2018 In D.C., spring has finally sprung, and the sun is coming out! It seems as if in a matter of a couple of days, we have gone from snow, freezing temperatures and barren trees limbs to sun, temps in the 70s and cherry blossoms blooming with a vengeance. While weather patterns are different depending on the region of the country (or the world) you live in, most of you can probably appreciate that moment when spring is finally at hand and the sun seems to take on more “blaze.” It’s a good feeling. I like being able to put away my winter coats (that are, at this point, desperately in need of another dry cleaning), pull out my trench coats, and start...

Thursday, March 15, 2018 This week, I participated on a panel at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) here in D.C., where the focus was on the “Industrial Internet of Things.”  The panel was moderated by the BPC’s Jake Varn and included Scott Bogren, Executive Director of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and Adria Finch, Director of Innovation with the City of Syracuse, NY. For those of you who have read my blog before, you’ve likely realized that I’m concerned about how language is often misused or overused to the point that complicated subjects that need to be understood actually become less so.  Such is the case with the term “Internet of Things” (IoT for short).  In order to help clarify what that means, I found...

Friday, March 02, 2018 On a day like today when the wind is blowing with gusts up to 70 mph, and the power is impacted, it’s a good reminder that utilities need partners all the time. Mutual aid agreements exist among electric utilities so that neighboring utilities (and even utilities from across the country if the need is great enough) can quickly send crews to help restore power when one of their brethren need help and vice versa. This mutual aid culture is so fundamental that utilities which might vehemently oppose each other in certain arenas will literally drop everything to help each other in emergencies. I love this about utilities because it is an example of how relationships should work. Disagreements can exist, but when...