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Spring is right around the corner! Vaccines are rolling out, COVID-19 numbers are dropping, cities are opening up, and I just completed several meetings for my girls about school gradually reopening in April! And UTC is hoping (fingers crossed) to hold an in-person annual Telecom & Technology conference in June! Perhaps it is appropriate that we see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel get a little brighter and closer during the season of spring. After all, spring to me means renewal. It means rebirth. It means more sunshine and daylight hours, the weather gets warmer, and we see friends and neighbors a bit more often in the yard, the park, and the neighborhood. Now the pandemic is still with us. I know this personally,...

The cold weather and snow covering my yard reminds me that winter is here. It can be difficult, in these days of quarantine and social distance, to tell one day from the next. Thankfully, we have the weather to keep us straight. As the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast dig out from this monstrous storm—our colleague Brett Kilbourne reports that in New Jersey, some areas saw more than two feet of snow!—I am reminded once again about the incredible work our members do day in and day out. Each season brings its own challenges, whether it is hurricanes in the late summer through the fall, severe rain and tornadoes in the spring, and blizzards and heavy wind in the winter. For our industry, there truly is never a break....

As I write this, my mind still goes back to what happened in the U.S. Capitol—indeed, our Capitol—on Jan. 6, 2021. There’s no need to rehash the details; those of us who love this country and all it stands for will never forget those images. Some of you may have seen my statement issued the day after these events. I’ll let that stand as my comment for now. In the meantime, while we must never forget what happened on that day, we must also move forward. 2021 is upon us, and despite the dark days of this pandemic that still grips our world, we finally have cause for optimism. Not one but two vaccines are here, and many front-line workers have already received their vaccinations. Having worked...

Ok I’ll admit it—I love this time of year. I love how people come together, I love the fellowship, and I just love that the holidays seem to bring out the best in everyone. We always seem to be kinder, more patient, and loving to our families, friends, and neighbors during the holiday season. I wish we could bottle this feeling and make it last all year, but at least I know that once a year, we truly can all come together. For me, December is extra special because my birthday is on Christmas day—December 25th. I get the same reactions every time I bring it up: people always wonder whether I feel slighted or upset that my birthday coincides with one of the biggest days...

October 27, 2020 What does cybersecurity mean to you and me? We recognize that cybersecurity exists as a culture and a challenge, and we know it matters to just about every human on the planet. Professionals and academics alike have tried to narrow it down, but there remains no concrete definition of cybersecurity. Although Merriam-Webster defines cybersecurity, generally, as “measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack,” for the utility industry, the meaning goes much deeper because they are protecting the critical infrastructure that powers our lives. And understanding the implications of cybersecurity and how to protect our families, our businesses, our data, and our standard of living from cybercrime is a constant challenge. When I think of...

It’s been over a month since I last wrote this blog. My usual schedule is about every two weeks, so I’m clearly off that. In my defense, there has been a lot going on since I last wrote – UTC’s tremendous annual Telecom & Technology (T&T) conference, appearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of its annual reliability technical conference, taking a short vacation, preparing for our Board of Director’s annual visit to D.C. for strategic planning and a day of advocacy, and the usual juggling of personal and professional commitments--indeed, my girls’ summer swim has kept my husband and me quite occupied on Saturday mornings and Monday nights for the last several weeks. For me, the summer months also focus my attention on...

Monday, February 12, 2018 From President Trump’s State of the Union Speech on January 30, 2018:   …As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year -- is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road? I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve. Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 My family and I took a belated holiday vacation this past week to Disney World. We’ve been before so knew what to expect: 1) our girls being over-the-top excited; 2) my husband and I being over-the-top excited about seeing our girls excited (and, yes, revisiting our childhoods a bit); 3) eating too many Disney French fries (they make really good fries there, seriously); 4) walking ungodly amounts of steps and, as a result, being exhausted every night and sleeping like the dead; 5) being amazed at the incredible customer service at Disney and starting to take it for granted by the end until being rudely awakened once we step back into the “real world.” This is the second time we’ve gone with family...

Thursday, January 04, 2018 Okay, well, remember I live in the D.C.-metropolitan area, not Minnesota like our esteemed Chairwoman Kathy Nelson, and we are experiencing some icy temps here as well as excessive wind, but the snow is to a minimum. So it might be blizzard with a lower-case “b.” Nonetheless, it is cold. And, to add to the cold weather, I also have a cold. Not the most inspiring way to start the new year, but…that sounds real whiny and not how I typically approach things…so, I will move on to warmer thoughts… [caption id="attachment_15813086" align="alignleft" width="300"] Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel[/caption] Palm Springs for Telecom & Technology 2018! Can’t get warmer than that! We have already booked Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Neil Chatterjee to be one of our...

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Since the beginning of December, UTC has been in full-blown end-of-the-year planning and preparation mode. We held a Board of Directors call last week in which our budget for calendar-year 2018 was approved, and a good deal of additional business was done, including approval of our new policy resolutions process that will be rolled out early in the year and will help us to discuss and approve UTC’s federal policies positions in a transparent and inclusive way. I’ve mentioned this process before – we began to develop it under the strategic membership plan passed by the Board this time last year. The Board last week also approved the inclusion of the UTC Foundation Board Chair as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the UTC Board, reviewed...

It is two days after Thanksgiving, and before I turn my attention completely to the Christmas season, I want to express my gratitude: -For my God -For my husband, Alan Hill, for exactly 11 years of marriage (yes, it is our anniversary today) and for being an amazing partner and father to our two girls -For my two girls, Emma and Charlotte -For my incredible family – my mom, my step-dad, my brother, my in-laws and step-siblings and step-in laws, my aunt and cousins -For my amazing friends, especially those who make me laugh the most (you know who you are) -For my neighbors in Arlington, VA -For my dogs, Taylor and Lily (and for dogs in general) -For my horse, Ginny (and for horses, in general – the closest thing to fairy...

  As I fail miserably to wean myself off Halloween candy before heading into the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years’ sugar fest, I preface this blog with the disclaimer that I am experiencing a massive sugar high that may lead me to, as the title implies, take more risks than I normally would… The concept of risk is something I have thought of often in my life – both personally and professionally. My father, John Ditto, was an aviator in the Marine Corps who flew A-4s (the single-seat attack aircraft flown by the instructor pilots in the movie “Top Gun”) throughout most of his 24-year career, and who took great risks by just showing up to work. While he survived relatively unscathed through two tours of Vietnam, along with marriage...

In my last blog, I promised to talk about the UTC Canada meeting held in Regina, Saskatchewan, in late September. The event itself featured a compelling program with, for the first time, a panel of other critical industry representatives from trade associations in Canada. Given their deployment of private networks and similar technical and policy issues, in the U.S., UTC has attracted electric, gas, water, and rail members (and previously pipeline company members, which we will seek to attract again). In Canada, the membership has remained focused on electric utility ICT needs to date, but that might be changing based on the robust discussion I heard. Overall, I appreciated the dialogue as well as the leadership of Geoff Trofimuk of SaskPower, who chairs UTC Canada. Geoff...

The issue of “stovepiping” or “siloing” ourselves within our own organizations/utilities has come up over and over again in meetings, conferences, publications, etc. – particularly as we discuss “IT/OT convergence.” I also wrote about it in my first Forward! article in the Q4 2016 issue of the UTC Journal. The problem of stovepiping/siloing also occurs in the federal government, and is particularly thorny for UTC’s policy focus because we have two discrete and very different agencies regulating telecom/technology policy (the Federal Communications Commission) and energy policy (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). There is broad agreement that energy is the lifeblood of the economy, and underpins the health and safety of society. Given this basic tenet, utilities, especially electric utilities, are expected by policymakers to continue to...

[caption id="attachment_10815092" align="alignright" width="300"] Raquel Tavares[/caption] I am writing as the EUTC’s (European Utilities Telecom Council) annual meeting winds down in Lisbon, Portugal. It is my first time in this beautiful city, and it has not disappointed in terms of the weather and food. While the pace of the conference has kept me from truly enjoying the sites, we have had some fabulous evening events at interesting places around the city. Last night, our host utility, EDP Distribucao, provided us with an amazing show after dinner, a traditional Portuguese music called Fado representing a highly emotional style. For the performance last night, there were three different types of guitars (including a classical Portuguese-style) and Raquel Tavares, a very strong-voiced singer. The vocals reminded me of lower-keyed...

As my husband and I dropped off my girls for their first day of school this morning (my youngest started kindergarten...

No, I’m not referencing the third novel of the Twilight series, much as that might interest the few millennial readers of my blog (and even some Gen Xers in my age bracket--I have admittedly read all of the books…), but rather the solar eclipse that gripped the nation on Monday.  As usual in our era of 24-hour news channels and online live streaming, there was no way we could have missed the spectacle, even if we wanted to. [caption id="attachment_8558123" align="alignright" width="300"]             Cool Eclipse Shadows On The Ground [/caption] Being the good parent that I am, I had not purchased any eclipse glasses nor prepared at all in advance for my two girls to view the eclipse.  So, my awesome husband...

Well, not easy, but a bit less hectic, at least here in Washington. As Congress glides into its August recess, people take their last-ditch summer vacations, and the traffic eases up a bit as a result. I’m taking some time off this month to recharge and spend time with my family. Hopefully, all of you get a chance to do the same. [caption id="attachment_7649704" align="alignleft" width="378"] UTC members from Nebraska Public Power District: Immediate Past Chairman Matt Schnell and Region 6 Treasurer Matt Holthe talk with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-N.E.)[/caption] In my last blog, I mentioned that our board was in town the week of July 17, and during that week spent a day in meetings on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to...

As I write, it is the morning of Monday, July 17, and UTC’s Board of Directors is making its way to Washington, D.C., to spend the better part of a week considering UTC’s strategic plan and strategic membership plan, conducting other UTC business, doing a deeper dive on what it means to be a member of the Board of Directors, and, last but not least, advocating for UTC’s positions in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First, I want to thank the Board for their dedication to UTC and to all of its members. We have some longer-term Board members and some new folks, but to a person they have committed time, energy, and, most importantly, brainpower, to informing committee activities, white papers, conference...

I made my way to Cape Town, South Africa, the week after UTC’s annual conference, in order to participate in African Utility Week, along with Kathy Nelson, UTC’s new Chair of the Board, Bobbi Harris, UTC’s VP of Market Strategy and Development, Bob Lockhart, UTC’s VP of Cybersecurity, Technology, and Research, and Peter Moray, UTC’s Director, Global Development. In late 2015, UTC launched an African affiliate – the Africa Utilities Technology Council (AUTC). Given that the group is still in start-up mode, we decided to partner with African Utility Week in 2017 to offer a track devoted to utilities telecom and technology challenges and successes. Before I get to some of the event details, it bears keeping in mind that the four Americans and one Brit...

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...

As I write this I am at Dulles airport about to board a plane to Cape Town, SA, via Amsterdam. My flight was supposed to leave at this time yesterday, but airlines being what they are these days, my trip got screwed up and I had to leave today instead. The plus is that I got to spend the entire Mothers' Day with my girls and husband, and the minus is that I will miss a few things at the start of African Utility Week where Africa UTC is hosting an ICT track in partnership with AUW. Though I’m sorry to have missed part of the conference, I have to admit that I think the plus outweighed the minus in this situation. Given the intensity of last...

As I write this, I am five days past my one-year anniversary as UTC’s President and CEO, and five days out from the UTC annual conference, where I met many of you for the first time last year. I also recently completed my UTC “world-tour” by attending the U.S. Region 5 meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota, from April 18-21. As I reflect on the last year, I can sum up my experience in a few short phrases: great people are involved; there is a real need for UTC, especially as utilities transition into a more customer-interactive functionality; we must constantly, and on an ongoing basis, provide membership value; and we must create and maintain clear lines of communication. Here at UTC’s offices in D.C., we have...

For those of you familiar with Portuguese, you know that this word – obrigado – means “thank you.” For those, like me, who have had little to no exposure to the language, well, now you know one word in what is the official language of Portugal and Brazil – and Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe (one country). As we all know from our elementary school history, the Portuguese were incredibly gifted navigators, sailors and explorers, producing Ferdinand Magellan, who completed the first voyage around the world, Vasco da Gama, who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East, Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real who explored Greenland and the coast of Newfoundland, Bartholomew Dias, who...

I’m writing this blog on March 30, in overcast, chilly D.C., as I prepare to head to Salvador, Brazil on April 1, to participate in the UTC America Latina (UTCAL) annual summit. I’m hoping that, when I return on April 8, the lamb will have made its appearance because I’ll be used to sunshine and warmth after a week in Brazil! As for the “lion” that can be said to symbolize the extremely active legislative and regulatory environment at the federal level, I think that lion will be roaring for a while… In my next blog, I’ll review the UTCAL summit, but for this one, I wanted to touch on my time at the Region 6 conference held in mid-March. Region 6 includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri,...

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