April 13, 2020

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UTC Steps Up Advocacy as FCC Vote on 6 GHz Nears

UTC is ramping up its advocacy as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) nears a final decision on its controversial proceeding to allow unlicensed use in the 6 GHz spectrum band.

The FCC is slated to vote on its 6 GHz rule at its April 23 open meeting (Industry Intelligence, April 6, 2020).

Over the next several days, UTC will be meeting with various FCC offices in order to demonstrate that their current draft order fails to take the necessary steps to protect utilities and other incumbents in the band. UTC is also working with allied stakeholder organizations to build up alliances and demonstrate how this proposal will negatively impact existing 6 GHz users across the board.

According to a UTC summary, the FCC draft order does the following:

  • Outdoor operations would be authorized to use 850 MHz of the band and would be controlled by automated frequency coordination (AFC)
  • Indoor operations would be authorized to use the entire band and potential interference would be mitigated only by output power restrictions
  • The issue of very low power (VLP) unlicensed operations will be considered as part of a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM)
  • Also, the Commission will consider increasing the power for indoor operations without AFC

In addition, the order creates what appears to be an industry led multi-stakeholder group to study technical and operational issues stemming from the rule. This group, the FCC says, will address issues related to interference detection and mitigation, AFC testing, standardization, and much more.

“UTC is working overtime on ensuring that this stakeholder group is overseen by the FCC and is adequately balanced with meaningful representation and participation by stakeholders on behalf of incumbent licensees,” said UTC Vice President and General Counsel Brett Kilbourne. “The FCC’s actions later this month will not be the final word on how this is decided.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

NERC Seeks to Defer Implementation of Reliability Standards

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) last week filed a motion with federal regulators to defer the implementation of several reliability standards that have effective dates or phased-in implementation dates in the second half of 2020.

NERC said it took this action is a measure to help assure grid reliability amid the impacts posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

In a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), NERC requested that FERC defer the implementation of the following standards:

  • CIP-005-6 – Cyber Security – Electronic Security Perimeter(s), by three months;
  • CIP-010-3 – Cyber Security – Configuration Change Management and Vulnerability Assessments, by three months;
  • CIP-013-1 – Cyber Security – Supply Chain Risk Management, by three months;
  • PER-006-1 – Specific Training for Personnel, by six months;
  • PRC-002-2 – Disturbance Monitoring and Reporting Requirements (phased-in implementation for Requirements R2-R4 and R6-R11), by six months;
  • PRC-025-2 – Generator Relay Loadability (phased-in implementation for Requirement R1, Attachment 1, Table 1 Relay Loadability Evaluation Criteria Options 5b, 14b, 15b, 16b), by six months; and
  • PRC-027-1 – Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults, by six months.

According to NERC, while this motion addresses only those standards scheduled to become effective during the remainder of 2020, it recognizes that there are significant uncertainties regarding the duration of the outbreak and the subsequent recovery. Therefore, NERC says it will continue to evaluate the circumstances to determine whether additional implementation delays may be warranted and submit any appropriate filings with FERC at that time.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Member News: NES Reflects on Tornado Restoration Process

In the early morning of March 3, 2020, the Nashville area was struck by a series of tornadoes that will leave their mark on Nashville for years to come. With power now restored to the homes and businesses not damaged too much to receive power, we reflect on the restoration process, those who put their lives on the line and worked around the clock to restore power to our city in less than two weeks.

Let’s break down the damage:

  • At the peak of the outage, 50,124 customers were without power; during the 10-day response a total of 61,974 NES customers were without power.
  • 5 NES substations were without power / 2 customer owned substations without power
  • 15 to 20 – 161 & 69 kV transmission lines were out of service
  • Over 20 – 13.8 & 23.9 kV distribution circuits were out
  • There were over 800 damaged light poles

On Tuesday morning, NES contacted its line contract providers from across the Southeast to ask for assistance. Davis Elliot, MasTec and TVA all provided assistance during the restoration. With the additional resources, NES had nearly 230 bucket trucks working for 14 hours during the day with approximately 15 to 20 trucks working for 14 hours overnight. This continued for nine days.

Throughout the restoration process, NES worked closely with its customers to address specific needs of the community. NES restored power to two substations and 17,000 customers within 24 hours of the tornado touch downs. Within 48 hours of the tornadoes, power was restored to over 23,000 customers (45% of effected customers). Within 72 hours after the tornadoes, there were less than 15,000 customers without power. In one week, 95% of effected customers’ power was restored. At the end of Thursday, March 12th, most all customers who could receive power were restored. All out of town construction crews were released on Friday morning, March 13.

During this event, NES crews and its contractors replaced nearly 1,000 distribution and transmission poles, over 450 distribution transformers and over 800 streetlights in 10 days.

March 3, 2020 will be a day Nashvillians remember forever – we are thankful to have a team and community who care so much about Music City.

Member News: CenterPoint Contributes $1.5M to Aid in Coronavirus Relief

CenterPoint Energy last week announced through its foundation the company will contribute $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations, agencies and causes that are committed to supporting those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. CenterPoint Energy’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will include $1 million in direct contributions, as well as up to $500,000 in matching gifts for employees’ contributions to qualifying 501(c)3 organizations.

“During this challenging time, the safety and well-being of CenterPoint Energy’s customers, employees, contractors and communities we serve remain a top priority,” said John W. Somerhalder II, interim president and chief executive officer of CenterPoint Energy. “We hope to assist the most vulnerable of our population who are experiencing significant challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Through the CenterPoint Energy Foundation’s contributions to local nonprofit organizations, we will strive to make a positive difference in the communities where we live and work.”

Qualifying nonprofit organizations in CenterPoint Energy’s utility footprint of Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas will be eligible to receive grants. Organizations that are interested in applying for a CenterPoint Energy COVID-19 Relief Fund grant should visit www.centerpointenergy.com/cnpgives.

CenterPoint Energy continues to provide additional support to customers regarding their utility service. As previously announced, the company will support customers who may need payment assistance, arrangements or extensions during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the company has temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections for nonpayment. For customers in southwest Indiana, this includes the temporary suspension of electric service disconnections.

Additional information about CenterPoint Energy’s COVID-19 response can be found at centerpointenergy.com.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI
  • RESCHEDULED! Oct. 12-14: Region 6 Meeting, Double Tree by Hilton Kansas City-Overland Park
  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 4-6: Broadband Workshop, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Charlotte

Webinars

  • April 21: Small Cell Pole Attachment Best Practices
  • April 28: How Utilities Empower Broadband Deployment
  • May 7: Five Reasons Your Utility Should Consider Investing in Broadband
  • May 12: UTC Training Webinar: Utility Backup & DC Power Systems – Part 1
  • May 14: UTC Training Webinar: Utility Backup & DC Power Systems – Part 2

Committee/Division calls

  • April 14: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart at lockhart@utc.org
  • April 15: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 16: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • April 16: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • April 17: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 21: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne