February 4, 2019

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With Shutdown Temporarily Resolved, Spectrum Services Resumes Full Activity

UTC’s Spectrum Services is now able to submit frequency coordination applications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) now that the entire federal government is back to work, though processing these applications could still be delayed.

Under a deal approved by Congress and the White House late last month, the month-long partial federal shutdown ended on Jan. 25, as policymakers agreed to a three-week funding measure to temporarily fund the entire federal government until Feb. 15.

This gives Washington a brief window to negotiate on border security while opening the many agencies that have been closed since late December. It is unclear whether lawmakers will reach a compromise before the next deadline, according to media reports. If no deal is reached, the many agencies shuttered throughout most of January could be closed again, multiple media outlets report.

UTC’s Spectrum Services continued receiving applications and working with customers during the shutdown, though because the FCC was one of many agencies closed, UTC was unable to submit the applications for processing. Now that the FCC is back open, Spectrum Services can complete these tasks (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 28, 2019).

However, due to the 35-day shutdown, the FCC is backlogged and likely unable to begin processing these applications immediately. UTC will keep its customers and clients informed as necessary.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

DOE Funds Grid Modernization Effort to the Tune of $40 Million

Department of Energy (DOE) Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes late last month announced $40 million in FY19 funding for the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI).

The GMI, a crosscutting initiative involving all the applied DOE energy offices, focuses on working with public and private partners to develop new tools and technologies that measure, analyze, predict, protect, and control the grid of the future. The effort demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to technology innovations which will modernize the nation’s grid and ensure that it remains resilient, reliable and secure.

“A reliable and resilient grid is essential to our nation’s economic and national security,” said Under Secretary Menezes, “Through this funding, and with the support of our National Labs and private sector partners, we will establish a grid that will withstand the tests and challenges of the future, while ensuring that Americans continue to enjoy the benefits of our amazing energy abundance.”

Leveraging the subject matter expertise across DOE’s national laboratories, the funding in FY19 will be committed to the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) to collaborate with industry in order to build core competencies for the future. While details of the lab call are expected to be released by March, topic areas will include resilience modeling; advanced sensors; energy storage; cybersecurity; and institutional support.

The announcement was made at the Innovation XLab Grid Modernization Summit in Seattle. The purpose of the Innovation Summit is to build strong partnerships between the national laboratory complex and industry in a variety of important areas like grid modernization and energy storage. With this announcement, DOE furthers its commitment to innovation, cutting-edge research, and partnerships with industry.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

After Weeks-Long Wait, Starks Sworn in as FCC Commissioner

More than a month after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) newest member was officially sworn into office last week.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, whose nomination was approved before the Christmas holiday, took the oath on Jan. 30, more than 30 days after his Senate confirmation.

The reason for the delay? The FCC was one of many agencies impacted by the partial government shutdown (Industry Intelligence, Jan. 14, 2019) and therefore Commissioner Starks could not be sworn in.

With the government back up and running (see related story), Commissioner Starks was able to take the oath and officially join the Commission.

“I am deeply honored to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and I thank the President and the United States Senate for this exceptional privilege,” Commissioner Starks said. “As the last few weeks have affirmed, being a public servant is a calling to serve a mission bigger than yourself. Throughout my career, I have focused on protecting the most vulnerable and holding wrongdoers accountable.

“In my new role, I shall not only continue to pursue those goals, but also look forward to working with Congress, my fellow Commissioners, and the FCC’s outstanding staff to serve the public interest by encouraging innovation, competition, and security, as well as advancing policies to increase the quality, availability, and affordability of our country’s communications services. Every community has a stake in the future of communications in this country, and all have the right to be heard. I will always be listening.”

Prior to becoming a commissioner, Mr. Starks served as Assistant Bureau Chief within the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, a post he has held since 2015. Before that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as a Senior Counsel (Industry Intelligence, June 11, 2018).

FERC’s LaFleur Announces Departure from Commission

The longest tenured member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC, the Commission) will be stepping aside once her term expires later this year.

FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who first joined the agency in July 2010, last week said she will not seek a new term. Her current term is scheduled to end on June 30, 2019.

“Today I am announcing that I am no longer seeking a third term at FERC, and will be leaving the Commission later in 2019,” Commissioner LaFleur said. “While this is not the outcome I had hoped for, I feel very lucky to have served on FERC for more than eight years (and counting). I plan to stay at FERC at least through the end of my term on June 30, and probably longer, depending on my future plans and the possible appointment of a successor.

“It has been a high honor to serve at the Commission, and I love working here,” she said. “I have many people to thank for the opportunities I’ve had and will certainly have more to say as I get closer to actually leaving.”

During her tenure, Commissioner LaFleur served as Chairman on two occasions—in late 2013-2014, and in 2017. Prior to joining FERC, she served as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA, responsible for the delivery of electricity to 3.4 million customers in the Northeast. Her previous positions at National Grid USA and its predecessor New England Electric System included chief operating officer, president of the New England distribution companies and general counsel.

UTC has met with Commissioner LaFleur to discuss industry interdependencies and greater collaboration between FERC and the Federal Communications Commission.

“On behalf of UTC, I send our thanks and appreciation to Commissioner LaFleur for her service at FERC and to our nation,” UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto said. “She proved to be a steady hand during difficult times at the Commission and we are grateful for her leadership. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with questions.

Upcoming Events

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

  • Feb. 19: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 20: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 21: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 21: Public Power Division Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Feb. 12-14: UTC Region 8,9,10
  • Feb. 28: UTC Region 7
  • March 6-8: UTC Region 3
  • March 25-27: UTC Mid-Central