August 5, 2019

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Editor’s Note: Industry Intelligence Takes an August Break! Publishing Resumes on Sept. 9

Attention Industry Intelligence Readers,

After this issue, Industry Intelligence will be taking a short break before resuming our publishing schedule on Monday, Sept. 9.

The UTC Public Policy Staff will alert our members of any significant developments in Washington via our email distribution and posts to our Website.

Thank you for reading and see you in September!

–The Industry Intelligence Team

Utilities Are Partners in Broadband Deployment, UTC’s Ditto Says

Electric utilities are key partners in bridging the rural digital divide, UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) last week after the agency established the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

Although concerns about the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband mapping persist, the Commission issued the proposal nonetheless and is seeking comment on the mechanics of how the funding will be made available.

UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto applauded the move and noted that electric utilities are key partners in the deployment of rural broadband.

“We applaud and appreciate the FCC’s actions today to develop the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund,” Ms. Ditto said. “Electric utilities of all shapes and sizes are key partners in the deployment of broadband services across the U.S., particularly in rural and hard-to-serve locations. This funding opportunity could help more utilities support communities through broadband deployment. Electric utilities empower broadband deployment in myriad ways, and we appreciate the FCC providing this important funding opportunity.”

In a press release announcing the proposed rulemaking, the FCC said it is seeking comment on continuing the expansion of broadband where it’s lacking by using an efficient reverse auction that builds on the success of last year’s CAF Phase II auction.  The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would focus on areas currently served by “price cap” carriers, along with areas that were not won in the CAF Phase II auction and other areas that do not currently receive any high-cost universal service support.

In a separate related to broadband mapping, the FCC last week initiated the Digital Opportunity Data Collection process it claims will collect granular data to assist in identifying gaps in broadband deployment.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Less than a Month Away! Focused on Utility Broadband? Attend UTC’s Aug. 21-22 Workshop in Kansas City

We are just under a month away from UTC’s Broadband Workshop—have you registered?

Since the rural electrification push of the 1930s and the interstate highway system of the 1950s, the United States has never seen such a need for great infrastructure deployment. Higher capacity and more resilient, pervasive broadband must be brought to all corners of the country if we are to ensure that all of our citizens remain integrated into the global economy.

And it is not only the demand for basic broadband but the push towards 5G and further wireless densification that is driving the need for more fiber. How are we to meet this challenge?

Electric utilities are uniquely situated to deliver on this demand. From large investor-owned distribution systems supplying essential backbone and middle mile services to the municipally owned and electric cooperative utilities serving smaller, oftentimes more rural, communities –all electric utilities have a role to play in rewiring our country for the future.

To address these issues, UTC is hosting a broadband workshop focused on meeting the challenges on wiring America. The conference is being held from Aug. 21-22 in Kansas City.

This special 1.5-day workshop will focus on these roles, how each complements the other and the challenges faced by each party in deploying broadband infrastructure to their customers and their communities.

More information, including an agenda and registration information, is available here.

UTC Unveils October Power Grid 4.0—Digitalization Global Forum

Electric utility executives all over North America are welcome to Montréal to share best practices and lessons learned about digitalization. Across the globe, electric utilities are looking to go digital as they modernize their systems to enable greater customer engagement and deploy new and emerging distribution technologies. This forum will be a first in North America.

UTC’s “Power Grid 4.0—Digitalization Forum” will be held in Montreal from Oct. 16-18, 2019. The event is hosted by Hydro Quebec with the premier sponsor being SNC-Lavalin, an engineering partner expert at mastering complex projects over the last 100 years. The event’s other sponsors include Linxon, Juniper Networks, and Black & Veatch.

For all the details about the speakers and meeting agendas, please visit the event website: https://utcpowergrid.org/

“This event will be a key global forum for utilities, policymakers, our vendor partners, and other stakeholders to discuss these important issues,” said UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto. “By bringing major decisionmakers and executives in North America under one roof, we can learn from each other as utilities consider enhancing investments into new and emerging technologies. My thanks to Hydro Quebec for hosting and SNC-Lavalin for their important sponsorship.”

Nearly all utilities deploy their own information and communications technology (ICT) networks to provide day-to-day situational awareness of their infrastructure. As utilities invest in grid modernization in response to customer demand, these networks are being transformed to enable greater deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources that require a more flexible grid. To support grid modernization, the investment in digital assets is paramount, and C-level executives are continuing to realize that now is the time to allocate resources to transform their core utility business.

That’s why the Digitalization Forum is so timely.

“Managing energy supply and demand is evolving and the interconnectivity between customers and utilities is changing our industry. Great relationship between the North American Utilities is key to develop and offer a better outcome that suits the customers’ needs. Hydro Québec is pleased to participate to this first digitalization forum, that brings together, all the major players of our industry to share expertise and best practices, to come up with real solutions and improve performance for the next generations,” said David Murray Chief Operating Officer of Hydro-Québec and President of Hydro-Québec Production.

‘’A vast portion of the power utility infrastructure in North America was constructed in the 1960s and is nearing ‘end of life.’ Power utilities are replacing their equipment while taking into account the numerous changes facing the industry. Such a digital transformation requires capital investments which, if done correctly, can be offset by significant reductions in operational cost. This forum has been created in order to address these issues,’’ said Alain Brière, vice-president & general manager Intelligent Networks & Cybersecurity, SNC-Lavalin.

Upcoming Events

A snapshot of upcoming UTC webinars, events, and conference calls

  • Aug. 21-22, 2019: UTC Broadband Workshop, Kansas City
  • Oct. 16-18, 2019: Power Grid 4.0 Digitalization Forum; Montreal
  • Aug. 13: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Aug. 15: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Aug. 15: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Aug. 15: Technical Division Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Aug. 16: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Sept. 4-6, 2019: Region 9 Meeting; Spokane, WA
  • Sept. 12-13, 2019: Region 4 Meeting; Grand Rapids, MI
  • Sept. 16-19, 2019: Region 5 Meeting; Lacrosse, WI
  • Oct. 2-4, 2019: Region 3 Meeting; Mobile, AL
  • Oct. 10-11, 2019: Region 10 Meeting; Las Vegas