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December 7, 2020

In Draft Language, Senate Approps Seek FCC Commitment to 6 GHz Testing

The Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations draft report language bill for FY2021 includes a provision (page 61) requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to report back on its efforts to ensure that new unlicensed devices in the 6 GHz band do not cause harmful interference to incumbent users.

The language denotes the Appropriations Committee’s concerns “about the potential effects on reliability of the electric transmission and distribution systems” stemming from the FCC’s April 2020 order permitting unlicensed use in the band.

Report language typically accompanies congressional appropriations legislation which funds the federal government. The language is used to provide specific direction to federal agencies as to what Congress expects the agencies to do—or not do—with their congressionally approved budgets.

In this case, the draft report language states that it expects the FCC to ensure that any mitigation technologies “are rigorously tested” in coordination with relevant federal agencies and that such mechanisms are “found to be effective in order to protect the electric transmission system.”

UTC joined a broad array of organizations in sending a letter to Senate Appropriations leadership expressing support for the language, which will likely come under attack by the proponents of unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band. The letter notes that the FCC downplayed the reports and analyses which demonstrated the very high likelihood of harmful interference to existing users in the band.

Aside from UTC, organizations signing the letter include the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Public Power Association, the American Water Works Association, the Edison Electric Institute, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

For a copy of the letter or if you have any questions, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

Existing Rules, Info-Sharing Key to Supply Chain Security, Utilities Tell FERC

UTC joined several utility organizations in urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to tread carefully as it considers potential supply chain actions.

At issue is FERC’s September 2020 notice of inquiry which seeks comments on the potential risks to the bulk-electric system posed by using equipment and services produced or provided by entities identified as risks to national security (Industry Intelligence, Sept. 21, 2020).

UTC signed onto comments filed by the American Public Power Association, the Large Public Power Council, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The comments state that the existing and pending Critical Infrastructure Protection standards provide an appropriate baseline set of requirements, processes, and procedures to guard against the risks outlined in the FERC NOI.

“NERC’s existing and pending CIP standards, and likely future Department of Energy regulations resulting from Executive Order 13920, provide an appropriate baseline set of requirements, processes, and procedures to help guard against risks associated with equipment and services from the Covered Companies,” the comments state. “We caution the Commission against directing NERC to develop new standards or requirements in an effort to mitigate these risks.”

Additionally, information sharing between the industry and the federal government is absolutely essential in identifying and mitigating potential risks to the grid.

“[A]s the Commission rightly suggests in the NOI, information sharing by federal authorities is essential in allowing electric utilities to identify and mitigate potential risks from equipment or services supplied by entities that may pose a threat to national security,” the comments state.

UTC Calendar of Events

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Webinars

Dec. 9, 11am ET: The Network Effect of Grid Communications

Dec. 9, 2 pm ET: Reducing Time, Complexity, and Risk for Utility Communications Deployments

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. 8: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Dec. 8: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Dec. 16: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Dec. 17: Public Policy Division Call–For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Dec. 17: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Dec. 22: Utilities Broadband 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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