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December 21, 2020

UTC Members Extend Angst’s Term as Chair, Advance Lambert, Day to Leadership Positions

UTC members earlier this month extended the term of current Chairman Greg Angst and approved a new slate of officers to lead the association, effective immediately through June 2021.

During a special membership meeting on Dec. 10, UTC core utility members extended through June the term of Mr. Angst of CenterPoint Energy and also elected Paul Lambert of East River Electric Cooperative as Vice Chair and Dewey Day of Pacific Gas & Electric as Secretary/Treasurer. Each will serve in these capacities until UTC’s June 21-25, 2021 Telecom & Technology Annual Conference.

Traditionally, UTC officers serve a one-year term; however, because the 2020 T&T conference was postponed and held virtually this year, the UTC membership was unable to meet to approve the new slate of officers until August 2020. The UTC Board proposed to extend Chairman Angst’s term by one year to allow his successors the ability to serve in their positions for one full year as well.

UTC’s core utility members approved this change and thereby extended Chairman Angst’s term through the conclusion of the June 2021 conference.

“There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for our nation and our industry,” Chairman Angst said. “But as always, the utility industry and UTC as a whole have risen to this challenge and continued to meet our nation’s utility needs. At the same time, UTC has also moved forward, offering virtual meetings for our members and providing the same level of advocacy in Washington. I am proud of my colleagues for how we’ve pushed ahead and look forward to finishing my term on a strong note. I would also like to congratulate my colleagues Paul Lambert and Dewey Day for stepping up to serve in their new roles. UTC is only as strong as its members, and I am grateful for their ongoing dedication.

“In addition, my thanks to the UTC staff, led by our President and CEO Sheryl Riggs. They have not skipped a beat the last several months. I am grateful for all their hard work and support and look forward to 2021 and beyond.”

Chairman Angst is a consulting engineer in the Technology Strategic Planning, Innovation, and Delivery Group at CenterPoint Energy located in Houston. He has a strong background in network engineering of voice/data, synchronization, radio, microwave, fiber telecommunications, and telecom DC/AC power systems. Mr. Angst is a past UTC Region Director, past UTC Region 7 chair, and past chair of the UtiliSite Committee. In addition, he served on the UTC’s audit and research committees, and chaired the UTC Program Planning committee.

Mr. Angst holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. He is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas (P.E.), a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and a member of the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI), and a Project Management Professional (PMP) and is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has worked in power plant design both nuclear and fossil fueled.  He has worked in Telecommunications for over 30 years.

“Congratulations to Chairman Angst, Vice Chairman Lambert, and Secretary/Treasurer Day,” said UTC President and CEO Sheryl Riggs. “We all know how difficult this year has been on a number of levels, but the leadership and support of Chairman Angst and the Executive Committee has guided us through. I am excited about the future and look forward to working with this great team!”

FERC Proposes Incentives for Cybersecurity Investments by Public Utilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week proposed what it considers a major step toward enhancing the cybersecurity posture of the bulk power system with a proposal for public utilities to secure incentive-based rate treatment for voluntary cybersecurity investments that go above and beyond mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards.

At its Dec. 17 open meeting, FERC commissioners approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) which they said recognizes that the energy sector faces numerous and complex cybersecurity challenges at a time of both great change in the operation of the transmission system and an increase in the number and nature of attack methods. These ever-expanding risks create challenges in defending the digitally interconnected components of the grid from cyber exploitation.

In a June 2020 white paper, Commission staff sought comment on an incentive-based framework that could encourage public utilities to adopt best practices to protect their own transmission systems and improve the security of the grid.  Such a framework would allow the electric industry to be more agile in monitoring and responding to new and evolving cybersecurity threats, to identify and respond to a wider range of threats, and to address threats with comprehensive and more effective solutions.

The proposed rule would allow public utilities to seek Commission approval of two types of incentives for cybersecurity investments:  a rate of return (ROE) adder of 200 basis points or deferred cost recovery for certain cybersecurity-related expenses. Qualifying expenditures would be eligible for either, but not both, incentives. The total cybersecurity incentives requested would be capped at the zone of reasonableness.

The incentives would be available for certain investments that voluntarily apply specific CIP Reliability Standards to facilities that are not subject to those requirements and/or implement standards and guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) voluntary Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

Deferred cost recovery would be allowed for three categories of expenses: expenses associated with third-party provision of hardware, software and computing networking services; expenses for training to implement new cybersecurity enhancements undertaken pursuant to this rule; and other implementation expenses, such as risk assessments by third parties or internal system reviews and initial responses to findings of such assessments. Prior or continuing costs would not be eligible for incentives; deferred regulatory assets whose costs are typically expensed would be amortized over a five-year period.

Public utilities seeking to implement the proposed incentives must obtain prior Commission approval, and the proposed rule would impose initial and annual reporting requirements.

Comments on the NOPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 30 days later.

Please contact the UTC Security, Risk, and Compliance Team with any questions.

Georgia PSC Approves Measures to Promote Broadband Investment

Efforts to provide broadband in unserved areas of Georgia took another step forward following a state Public Service Commission (PSC) decision which determines the fee paid by cable companies to attach wires and cables to electric membership cooperative (EMC) utility poles.

In a decision earlier this week, the Commission unanimously approved a motion requiring EMCs to lower the pole attachment rate for new attachments in areas of the state that are unserved by broadband to $1, per pole, per year, for six years. This financial incentive, called the One Buck Deal, will be given to any qualified broadband provider that will agree to deliver new high-speed internet service in an area that is determined to be “unserved” by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Broadband Initiative Maps.

The Commission also established a cost-based pole attachment rate in areas of the state that already have broadband service and for existing attachments in unserved areas. The Commission voted to support reasonable terms and conditions with an enhancement to require faster repair of safety violations. Together these measures will spur the expansion of broadband into rural areas through economic efficiency, certainty, and increased safety and reliability of attachments on EMC poles.

“Georgia’s EMCs want to thank Commissioners Eaton, Echols, McDonald, Pridemore and Shaw and the PSC staff for their relentless hard work on this important issue,” says Georgia EMC President/CEO Dennis Chastain. “With today’s vote, the Georgia PSC is giving broadband providers access to utility infrastructure at a cost of next-to-nothing, in the locations where Georgia needs broadband the most. The Commission also voted today to protect EMC members from unnecessary energy rate hikes.”

In recent months, PSC commissioners studied the complexities of pole attachment safety, engineering and construction in hard-to-reach and remote areas like the North Georgia mountains and rural South Georgia counties.

“The PSC decision today is vital as EMCs pursue and evaluate broadband partnerships,” Chastain explains. “With today’s decision, EMCs are poised and ready to partner with broadband providers across the state to help them expand into our rural service territories.”

The EMCs originally proposed the One Buck Deal as a five-year financial incentive for internet providers to locate in rural Georgia. The PSC voted to extend the One Buck Deal as a six-year incentive. The $1 per pole, per year rate will apply to any qualified broadband provider that will agree to deliver new high-speed internet service, or 25/3 Mbps service, in unserved EMC areas. Under the One Buck Deal, the PSC has required EMCs to forego recovering a fair share of the costs to own and maintain utility poles. The introductory rate of one dollar, per pole, per year, applies to broadband providers that are not already attached to EMC poles.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Calendar of Events

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Upcoming Events

Feb. 1-4, 2021: Utility Technology Forum, Reno, NV.

June 21-25, 2021: UTC Telecom & Technology, Portland, OR.

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

Committee/Division calls

  • Dec. 22: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Jan. 12: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Jan. 12: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Jan. 20: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Jan. 21: Public Policy Division Call–For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Jan. 21: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Jan. 25: Security, Risk, & Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
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