December 17, 2018

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NOTE: Happy Holidays! Next issue of Industry Intelligence Runs on Jan. 7!

Editor’s Note: Due to the upcoming holidays, Industry Intelligence will not publish on Dec. 24 or Dec. 31.

Our first issue of 2019 will publish on Jan. 7.

Please contact the Industry Intelligence team with any questions.

Happy Holidays!

Federal Panel Calls for ‘National Focus’ on Catastrophic Power Outages

The U.S. needs a comprehensive, cross-industry, public-private strategy should the country face a widespread, prolonged power outage, a presidential advisory report determined.

Such an event requires “a new national focus,” with significant public and private action necessary to ensure the country can withstand weeks to months without electricity, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) said in a report released last week.

NIAC consists of 20 members representing critical infrastructure industries, including electric utilities, transportation, emergency response, finance, and IT services. It approved the report at a Dec. 13 meeting.

“This profound risk requires a new national focus,” the NIAC report said. “Significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage that could leave large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sectors—including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services—that are critical to public health and safety and our national and economic security.”

NIAC released the report after the White House directed it to assess the nation’s ability to respond and recover from prolonged outages resulting from extreme weather, cyber and/or physical attack, or other causes. While the electricity industry responds well to hurricanes and other weather-related incidents, “increasing threats—whether severe natural disasters, cyber-physical attacks, electromagnetic events, or some combination—present new challenges for protecting the national power grid…,” the report said.

The report recommends that the U.S. respond in two significant ways: One, by designing a national preparation, response and recovery plan from massive outages with federal guidance, resources and incentives to take action across all levels of government; and Two, by improving the U.S.’s understanding of how cascading failures across multiple critical industries will affect restoration and survival.

As part of this preparation, NIAC urges the federal government to examine federal emergency authorities and determine when, how and by whom they will be called into action. Additionally, the White House should determine what cabinet authorities will take the lead on responding to such an event; this official or officials should establish direct lines of communications with the departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security, the report said.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC Reconstitutes Broadband Panel, Seeks Nominations by Jan. 10

Nominations for those interested in serving on a panel intended to advise the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) on ways to expand broadband services throughout the U.S. are due on Jan. 10.

In a notice issued last week, the FCC extended the charter for its Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) for another two years, through March 2021, and called for applications from those interested in joining the panel. Members of the first incarnation of the BDAC must submit a letter to request reappointment.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai established the BDAC in January 2017; its charge is to propose federal, state and local policies as a means to accelerate broadband deployment. From the outset, the panel has been controversial over its telecommunications-industry heavy makeup, resulting in resignations and frustration over the course of 2018 (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 29, 2018).

Indeed, earlier this month the BDAC approved a model code for states on telecommunications infrastructure siting over the strenuous opposition of the remaining utility and municipal voices on the panel.

The newly reconstituted BDAC, when it convenes again in March 2019, will address emergency response/disaster recovery and new ways of encouraging deployment into low-income areas.

For more information, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

Committee Focus—Membership Division!

Editor’s Note: Below is the latest installment of the Committee Focus column in Industry Intelligence! Our goal is to regularly highlight different UTC committees so our members can get a better idea of how important our committees are to the Association and how to get involved.

UTC’s Membership Division serves as a core resource for recruiting and renewing members by developing a membership-engagement strategy, encouraging existing members who are excited and interested in promoting membership and engaging in a peer-to-peer recruitment and retention campaign. The Membership Division has worked hard to establish a strategy for the core member dues restructure.

At present, the division is working intently on membership renewals. Matt Holthe of the Nebraska Public Power District chairs the Membership Division; UTC Board Chairman Roger Bryant of Southern Company chaired the Dues Committee. Here are some things to know about this process, and why the restructure was necessary.

Eliminate Large Jumps When Revenue Grows

The old dues model grouped dues into revenue ranges, creating a holding pattern until a company crossed a revenue threshold. In this model, there would be no change to the UTC dues even as a company’s revenue grew year-over-year until a threshold was crossed triggering an increase. The new model moves towards a trendline, so that as your company’s revenues grow, the UTC dues will grow as well, gradually and predictably.

Allow for a G&Ts, Co-ops, Public Power Joint-Action Agencies Umbrella Policy

The new policy allows generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) and Joint-Action Agencies to join on behalf of their distribution utility members. This is a new path to encourage small distribution companies to join UTC. An example of this would be Nebraska Public Power District, which chose to include their wholesale customers in their dues and provide them the benefit of UTC membership.

Removal of Mergers & Acquisitions Dues Cap

The membership dues cap was removed for the highest level of dues. In the case of a merger, the acquiring company will also pay a prorated percentage of the acquired company’s dues over a three-year period, until the revenue formula can accurately report the new company’s revenue for calculations. This creates a more stable transition when mergers and acquisitions happen.

Implement an Automatic Annual Increase

The new structure also includes a small 2% automatic annual increase. This allows UTC to account for inflation and minimizes the need for another major dues restructuring in the future. The UTC Board of Directors can suspend this adjustment in the event of a recession or other economic challenge facing UTC and its members in any given year. This automatic increase also gives a utility the ability to forecast the increase in their budget year-over-year.

The Membership Division is in the process of membership renewal and working hard to serve existing members while engaging potential membership. For further information, or to get more involved, please contact the UTC Membership Division.

REMINDER! Draft Policy Resolutions for June T&T Meeting Due Jan. 31

Core UTC members have until Jan. 31, 2019, to submit ideas or concepts for potential policy resolutions to be adopted at the association’s annual Telecom & Technology conference in June.

This will mark the second time UTC pursues policy positions through the resolution process as approved by the UTC Board in its December 2017 meeting.

As was the case in 2018, any UTC core utility member can submit a proposed resolution or ideas for a resolution by Jan. 31. Only UTC core utility members can submit a resolution; if a vendor member has an idea, it must be sponsored and submitted by a core utility member.

Once all the proposed resolutions are collected by UTC staff, the Public Policy Division (PPD) will formally accept and discuss the proposals during its regularly scheduled February meeting. PPD members will have the opportunity to edit and debate the proposed resolutions prior to its March call, at which point the division will vote on the resolutions. This call will be open to all UTC core utility members.

Any resolutions cleared by the PPD will be submitted for review and consideration by the entire UTC membership at the annual Telecom & Technology meeting in June 2019, being held in Ft. Worth, TX. Resolutions for consideration at the annual meeting must be distributed to the entire association membership no later than two weeks prior to the event. Additionally, the proposed resolutions will also be posted on the UTC Website.

UTC’s core utility members will vote on the proposed resolutions during the association’s business meeting at the annual conference. Each UTC core utility member company will have one vote during the meeting, meaning that core members must designate one person to cast the company’s vote.

Any resolutions approved at the annual Telecom & Technology meeting will be considered official UTC policy and will inform the association as it advocates for its members in Washington and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team. An FAQ about the resolutions process is available here.

Resolutions approved at the 2018 annual meeting are available here.

Upcoming Events

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

  • Dec. 18: Utilities Broadband Committee Monthly Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Dec. 20: Public Policy Division Monthly Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Jan. 4: Knowledge & Learning Division Call—For more information, contact Bobbi Harris