February 18, 2020

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UTC Talks 6 GHz, Utility Comms at NARUC Session

UTC Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Sharla Artz discussed the utility industry’s concerns with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) 6 GHz proposal and the criticality of utility communications before a room packed with dozens of public utility commissioners last week in Washington.

Ms. Artz spoke on a Feb. 10 panel discussion on spectrum and cybersecurity issues at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Policy Summit in Washington. NARUC members regulate utility rates, siting, and much more.

During the panel, Ms. Artz detailed the importance of utility communications networks to overall grid reliability. She noted that these networks are essential to emergency response, mitigating cybersecurity risk, and day-to-day reliability.

She noted, though, that the FCC’s proposal to allow unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band could raise considerable challenges for the utilities who use the band for mission-critical communications. Ms. Artz noted that the FCC, thus far, is relying on an untested plan to mitigate potential interference to utilities and other existing users in the band.

Ms. Artz also suggested that NARUC could play a convening role between the energy and telecommunications industries as the interdependencies between the two sectors—as exemplified by the 6 GHz proposal—continue to grow. NARUC members regulate electric and, to some extent, telecommunications companies and therefore have a broad understanding as to how the two industries impact each other.

NARUC held the panel after passing a resolution at its November 2019 meeting urging the FCC to test its AFC system prior to finalizing its 6 GHz proposed rule. UTC has worked closely with NARUC members and leadership over the last several years to make them aware of the impact of the 6 GHz proceeding to grid reliability.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team for more information.

Energy Secretary Replaces CESER Chief with Intelligence Agency Vet

Karen Evans, the first person to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), has been replaced by a senior official from the National Security Agency.

Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette tapped Alexander Gates from the NSA to run CESER, the agency said.

Mr. Gates worked on intelligence analytics, cyber operations, cybersecurity, research and development while at NSA.

“Mr. Gates joins DOE from the National Security Agency where he excels in the field of intelligence analysis, cyber operations, cyber security, research, and tool development,” Secretary Brouillette said. ”He recently completed a tour of duty at DOE where he served as the Deputy Director for Cyber in DOE’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. In that role he led the production and delivery of cyber-related products and services in support of the Secretary and Staff, and other DOE stakeholders including entities in the private sector.”

Ms. Evans was first appointed to run the new CESER office in 2018.

In announcing the staffing change, Secretary Brouillette sent a memo to DOE staff thanking Ms. Evans for her work on electromagnetic pulse issues and expanding the agency’s data sharing efforts.

“[T]his is an opportunity to thank Karen S. Evans for her service as DOE’s first Assistant Secretary for the CESER office,” the Secretary said. “Since 2018, CESER has become a critical partner to both industry and the federal family in combatting growing cyber threats and protecting energy infrastructure through more coordinated preparedness and response to natural and man-made threats.”

Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry established CESER to address emerging threats while protecting the reliable flow of energy by improving energy infrastructure security and supporting DOE’s national security mission. CESER’s focus is preparedness and response activities to natural and man-made threats.

Join UTC at IWCE for a Discount!

UTC is exhibiting and moderating technical sessions at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), held in Las Vegas from March 30 through April 2, with exhibit hall hours on April 1 and 2.

Visit our coordination and technical staff in booth number 959 on the exhibit floor.

Those planning on attending but not yet registered, IWCE is offering a 20% discount for all UTC members, 10% discount on pre-conference education sessions.

Contact Klaus.bender@utc.org for more details.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

Committee/Division calls

  • Feb. 17: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 19: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 20: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Feb. 20: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 20: WEBINAR! Fiber to the Premises—For more information, click here
  • Feb. 21: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 25: WEBINAR! Improving Grid Reliability with Utility Grade Broadband Architecture—For more information, click here