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As I write this, I am getting ready for UTC’s first step into in-person meetings since Spring 2020. This will be the first time as President and CEO that I will be meeting many of you and I couldn’t be more excited. Still, I assume a number of us are a bit tentative about travel right now, and although I’m excited, I can certainly understand and empathize with those of you who may not be ready to take this step yet. This is why our Meetings Department wanted to hold a virtual component to this meeting as well, so many of our members who hoped to join us in Reno but can not due to ongoing travel restrictions, or safety and/or budget concerns still participate. It's not...

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...

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, so many families across the globe missing loved ones, civil unrest throughout our nation, families experiencing economic hardships, and so many other physical, mental, and emotional attacks there is no doubt that this year has been one of the most challenging in recent memory. As we reflect on the many unfortunate circumstances we faced in 2020, it makes this Thanksgiving season extremely special to me because I am an optimist.  My Great Grandmother, Nancy Wilson, was born in 1902 in Alabama and she shared many stories with me about facing difficult situations, but she always ended with what she called the “praise report.”  The praise report was simply her way to remind me that despite the challenges that she...

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...

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...

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...

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. ...