As of this writing, we are halfway through September, National Preparedness Month. The experts predicted an active hurricane season, and 2020 is living up to those expectations. Right now, Hurricane Sally is hitting the Alabama/Florida border with torrential rain and strong winds. Of course, this is just weeks after Hurricane Laura barreled through Louisiana, devastating Lake Charles and surrounding areas. On the West Coast, we are dealing with catastrophic wildfires that are destroying homes and lives. Communities have been destroyed and people have been uprooted, and this situation seems to get worse every year. And as is usually the case, utilities are among the first to respond to these disasters and begin restoring service as quickly and safely as possible. So when it comes to National Preparedness...

--Sheryl Riggs, UTC President & CEO As we sit on the cusp of the July Fourth holiday, I wanted to take some time and take stock as to where we are as an association, as a country, and indeed as a world. With so much happening at one time, it can be hard to process it all at once. We are still in a pandemic that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and shuttered our economy. We are seeing the sins of our nation’s past coming back to haunt us vividly. Many of our members are still unable to travel and may not be able to work from their offices for months. It almost feels overwhelming, but we can’t let it be. This is our moment in time. What...

--Sheryl Riggs, Interim President and CEO I’m an optimist by nature. No matter how bad the news gets, I believe there’s a silver lining and opportunity behind it. We just have to look. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that this pandemic is testing me. I come from New York City and still have family there, so I know firsthand what’s happening up there related to the pandemic. And working and living in the Washington area, another hard-hit location, we see reminders of the pandemic everywhere we look. But as bad as it gets, I’m still hopeful. I’m encouraged by the incredibly hard working and dedicated team at UTC. I can’t say enough about the incredible work and effort our team puts forth each day....

--Sheryl Riggs, UTC Interim President & CEO Those of us fortunate enough to be in the utility industry know full well how much hard work goes into providing the safe and reliable electricity all of us enjoy each and every day. We know the risks our members take, the safety and resilience practices that are baked in from the start, and the long hours that go into restoring such services after bad storms and other emergencies. And if there’s one positive to take away from this current pandemic, it is that I believe the country as a whole is becoming much more aware of how valuable and vital electricity is to their daily lives. Everything that our members do—from our core utility members to our associate technology...

We’re All in this Together #UTCStrong As I type this up, it has nearly been one month since the UTC staff has gone back to remote work. Even though we did this last year during our office move, this is different. We all know why. Still, despite the worries around the pandemic, in many ways this has brought the UTC team closer together. Even though we are much farther apart physically, we make it a priority to hold weekly meetings and even started holding happy hours on Friday afternoons so we can see each other, crack a few jokes, create some smiles, share funny stories about our kids or pets interfering our conference calls, so on and so forth. In fact, at the end of March, we...

--by UTC Interim President and CEO Sheryl Riggs In an era where the news changes by the minute, it can be difficult at times to feel certain and hopeful about the future. As I write this, my oldest child has been sent home from college and my other kids have joined us, with all schools in Maryland (and, frankly, the D.C. area) closed until further notice. Not only that, but our sports, restaurants, many of our stores, and so much more is closed as well. The things we used to take for granted as distractions are not able to function right now either. Yet there is one thing we can count on during this unprecedented era: You. That’s right. Our electric, water, and gas utilities are doing what they...

December 16, 2019 I just got finished binge-watching Season 3 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and, as with the first two seasons, it was excellent.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, I’m not going to give you the entire plot synopsis here -- you should watch from the beginning – but I’m going to give the shortest summary I can:  In late 1950s Manhattan, Mrs. Miriam “Midge” Maisel has realized her calling as a stand-up comedian after being cheated on by her husband and, ultimately, divorcing him as she pursues her career.  This major life change impacts her parents – her mother, Rose Weissman, and father, Abe Weissman, go through mid-life crises in response, resulting in her father leaving his long-time job as a...

Nov. 15, 2019 This time of year, I am thankful for many things. It’s that less chaotic time when the kids have acclimated to school and we’re in a routine. It’s that sweet time between the craziness of my daughter and husband’s mutual birthday, Halloween, and tons of business travel and the wonderful chaos of the Christmas season. Between Halloween decorations and Christmas decorations. Between fall and winter weather. The air smells like wood-burning fires and I feel cozy. It’s also a sad time. November 17th marks the sixth anniversary of my college roommate’s daughter’s death. Caitrin was six-years old when she passed away from brain cancer. She was diagnosed in January of 2013 and died just over 10 months later. This unfathomable situation is still, six...

Oct. 21, 2019 In Part I of this blog, I talked about broadband connectivity and how electric utilities can be part of the solution in certain areas of the country where the population is unserved or underserved. In Part II, I will discuss how the deployment of small-cellular antennae (small cells) to enable the fifth generation of wireless connectivity (5G) is likely not the answer to broadband connectivity in these rural areas and small towns. Moreover, I’ll review the illogical regulatory policies related to small cell pole attachments. Let’s remember that infrastructure--and the expense of deploying infrastructure--is the biggest impediment to broadband deployment by telecommunications companies. When there are few customers per square mile, the payment on the infrastructure investment is much longer. That infrastructure equation does...

Sept. 23, 2019 At the risk of stating the obvious, the United States is losing the race to broadband connectivity.  If you have read my blog before, you know that I’m competitive – not just for myself, but also for my country (and, clearly, for my kids, chosen sports teams, etc.).  Therefore, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that we’re losing this broadband connectivity race.  When I think about the capacity and resources we have to win, it makes me want to act like my husband does when his beloved Kentucky Wildcats are about to lose in the Final Four (use your imagination). While there are endless debates about broadband mapping and which county or state has what level of penetration, we all know there...

Sept. 9, 2019 Many of you already know that the Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of the Office of Electricity Bruce Walker recently sent letters to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Acting Administrator Diane Rinaldo, and NTIA Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management Peter Tenhula regarding the 6 GHz spectrum band. Letters were also sent to several trade association CEOs, including me, who wrote to the Department of Energy in July asking for help on this important matter. I could not be more appreciative of DOE’s support for protecting and promoting utility communications! I’ll go into the specifics of the DOE letter in a bit. First, as a reminder, the issue at hand deals with...

It’s been a few months since I mentioned dogs or posted a pic of one of mine, so I figured a “dog” play on words was about due.  Even though what I’m about to write about has nothing to do with dogs, there will be a pic, oh yes, there will be… It’s August in D.C., people, the so-called “Dog Days,” and it is hot. Gross hot. It’s also the month when most people either take their vacations or, because everyone else is seemingly out of town, they take it down a notch....

Well, well, it’s been close to three years since I began this blog and I haven’t yet touched directly, at least, on what may well be my favorite topic of all. And that topic is…wait for it… competition!!  You see, I am extremely competitive.  My competitiveness is not dulled by familial ties, friendship, or, really, anything.  But let me be clear, the person I compete with the most is…well, me. Sometimes my competitive instincts are misplaced, as in when I try to win at darts, horseshoes, pool, or anything that requires a particular kind of hand-eye coordination combined with patience that I simply don’t possess, expect for the times when I do.  For some reason, I am either so horrible at these games that I either...

What a difference a couple of weeks makes! In my last blog, I was admittedly a bit melancholy, and for good reason. But I can’t really sustain that kind of mood. My parents didn’t like us kids wallowing and I really don’t like it either. So here we are, and I feel…excited! ...

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit out of sorts (as the Brits would say), but haven’t really been able to pinpoint why.  We’re in our new offices, the weather is gorgeous, we’re prepped and excited for our upcoming annual conference in Fort Worth (June 17th-21st), and we’re making headway on some of our priority advocacy issues. Before sitting down to write this blog, I forced myself to undertake a bit of introspection.  In so doing, I realized I feel unsettled because there are several things pending and I feel a bit “on the brink” of some actions or decisions.  For me, this is an uncomfortable place to be.  For example, my older dog, Lily, whom I have written about in this blog...

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that UTC’s D.C. staff has been in a holding pattern since mid-January in terms of our office space. For those not familiar with the situation, to sum up: UTC had office space in D.C. that we wanted to vacate (too expensive, not convenient for us, not the right configuration, etc.), but our lease isn’t up until 2021 We found a few good options for new space in an area called Crystal City, which is a neighborhood in Arlington County just across the bridge from Capitol Hill and adjacent to Reagan National Airport The best deal/right fit for us was at a newly refurbished building where we would be able to build out our own office ...

I have been at UTC almost three years – my official start-date was April 26, 2016, but I realized it was approaching when I started to get comments on LinkedIn about my work anniversary.  Not sure how it works on LinkedIn – maybe it’s your anniversary month?  Regardless, it has been incredibly gratifying and fun to read the comments as I realized this milestone was approaching. ...

It’s official; I am now a wearer of eyeglasses. En route from UTC’s Region 6 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma) to the UTC America Latina event in Rio de Janeiro, I popped into Duty Free and bought some “readers” so I could actually read on the plane. ...

As I sit in DFW airport and my flight keeps getting delayed by half hour increments, I am experiencing what many travelers do when faced with this rope-a-dope — initial mild annoyance that has turned into frustration and, then, finally, grudging acceptance that I have no control over the situation and might as well roll with the punches....

Having written this blog for more than two years, I realize that I might be covering the same topics more than once. I’m also learning what really gets attention in the “blogosphere” – pictures of dogs, particularly those of real cute ones like my dog Taylor. Therefore, for this blog, I will attempt to combine the two by focusing on the need for, and importance of, partnerships....

My name is Joy and I have never worked from home.  There, I said it.  Well, while I have worked from home on a random basis when snowed in or awaiting the delivery person or when one of my kids is sick, I’ve never really done it for real.  Until now, that is…...

Dondanville Award Established in 1989, the Dondanville Award is named in honor of UTC’s first president, Russel Dondanville. This award formally recognizes an individual’s extraordinary service and dedication to UTC over the years through active participation in numerous Association activities. 2018 Ron Taylor, SRP (Retired) 2017 Mike Lowe, Blue Ridge MC 2016 Karnel Thomas, Utilities Technology Council 2015 Tom Perry, Santee Copper 2014 Ronald Beck, Lincoln PUD 2013 Troy West, CLECO 2012 Ed Ingersol, Gainesville Regional Utility (Retired) 2011 Rusty Williams, Southern Company (Retired) & AFL 2010 Jeff Selman, Tri-State Generation & Transmission 2009 Ken Campbell, American Electric Power 2008 Joe Lackey 2007 Leonard Leech, Nashville Electric Service 2006 Bill Anderson, MA/COM 2005 Jeff Katz, PSEG Services Corp 2004 Bernard Jacob, Gulf Power 2003 John Howell, CenterPoint Energy 2002 Steve Carrico,...

Without taking a position on the reasoning behind the partial government shutdown, it is an unusual time in Washington (and I have been here 26 years so have experienced many unusual and some horrific events – several government shutdowns...

In looking through my past blogs, I noticed I have not yet written about the perennial issue of New Year’s resolutions. Alas…sometimes I think New Year’s Day should be dubbed Ground Hog’s Day instead because of the many years where my resolutions are identical to those of the year before. Lose 10 pounds, stop eating sugar, keep in better touch with my old friends, be more patient…with everyone....

12/8/18 This is a very busy time for all of us here at UTC – budgeting for 2019, developing our 2019 work plan to implement the first year of our new strategic plan, having our annual staff retreat, having our holiday party, going to other organizations’ holiday parties, planning for our spring set of meetings, focusing on two key advocacy efforts – 6 GHz and resilience/storm restoration issues, and moving offices! Yes, we’re moving from our D.C. office to an office in Crystal City (Arlington), Virginia. The new location is right next to Reagan National Airport and close to the Pentagon.  It also happens to be one of two new locations for Amazon’s expanded headquarters.  Luckily, our lease negotiations began before that announcement was made, which...