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January 26, 2021

In Interview, UTC’s Osiene-Riggs Discusses Global Reach, Challenges of Pandemic

UTC President and CEO Sheryl Osiene-Riggs discussed the organization’s history, its global reach, and how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted its training and education in a recent podcast hosted by the Canadian Electricity Association.

During the Flux Capacitor interview, Ms. Osiene-Riggs talked about the challenges for an association focused on the intersection of telecommunications and utility infrastructure during a period of rapid change and a global pandemic.

Additionally, Ms. Osiene-Riggs discussed UTC’s evolution and membership and the evolving communications and technologies underpinning utilities. In particular, she reviewed the evolving cyber threat environment and the challenges of operating an association during a pandemic, and some upside, such as greater virtual reach.

The podcast is available online.

FCC Bureau Moves Ahead on New Poles Declaratory Order

A Federal Communications Commission staff bureau last week issued a declaratory order determining, essentially, that pole owners (i.e., utilities) should bear the costs of utility pole replacements that are not necessitated solely by the new attacher.

The Jan. 19 order was issued by the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau.

The order stems from the cable industry’s petition last summer asking the FCC to determine that pole owners should “share” pole-replacement costs to accommodate new attachments in areas unserved by broadband.

While the FCC’s order declines to act on the cable industry’s petition requesting the appropriate allocation of pole replacement costs to utilities, it stated that in response to the record, the FCC will “clarify” its rules and declare that “it is unreasonable and inconsistent with section 224 of the Communications Act, the Commission’s rules, and past precedent, for utilities to impose the entire cost of a pole replacement on a requesting attacher when the attacher is not the sole cause of the pole replacement.”

UTC is still reviewing the decision.

Initially, UTC is concerned this declaratory ruling is broader than what the cable industry initially requested. There is concern that this decision could result in higher rates for electricity consumers and little, if any, change in the pace of broadband deployment.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Biden Appoints New FERC, FCC Chairs

In a slew of appointments during his first few days in office, President Biden appointed new leadership at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

At FERC, Commissioner Rich Glick was named chair of the agency, replacing former Chairman James Danly. And FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosernworcel was tapped as Acting Chair of the agency after former Chairman Ajit Pai resigned on Jan. 20.

UTC President and CEO Sheryl Osiene-Riggs issued congratulatory statements regarding both appointments. Importantly, Chairman Glick co-signed a December 2019 letter from FERC encouraging the FCC to consider the concerns raised by the energy industry as it proceeded on the 6 GHz rulemaking.

“On behalf of the Utilities Technology Council, I offer my congratulations to new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Rich Glick,” Ms. Osiene-Riggs said. “I look forward to engaging with the Chairman on issues related to security, resilience, and the transition to a cleaner energy future. Utility communications networks are the key to a stronger, more secure, modern and responsive grid. Utilities are investing millions of dollars into grid-modernization technologies that will facilitate the deployment of renewable and distributed energy throughout the country. I am excited to work with Chairman Glick and his colleagues on the Commission as we develop the energy system of the future.”

Commissioner Rosenworcel voted in support of the 6 GHz proposal. She has, however, been sympathetic to utility and municipality concerns regarding pole-attachment regulations. In her statement. Ms. Osiene-Riggs urged the Commission to acknowledge the critical nature of utility services in its decisionmaking.

“On behalf of the Utilities Technology Council, I congratulate Jessica Rosenworcel upon being named Acting Chair of the Federal Communications Commission,” she said. “The energy and technology industries are converging at a rapid pace. Therefore the decisions made by the FCC are having greater impact on the energy and water sector than ever before. As electric, water, and gas utilities modernize their infrastructure, the FCC must account for the critical nature of utility services. I look forward to working with Chair Rosenworcel and her colleagues on these crucial issues. I also pledge my support to expanding broadband access throughout the country. Electric utilities in particular empower broadband deployment. The FCC has helped numerous utilities through funding and grant programs in recent years. I believe electric utilities are key partners in bridging the digital divide and am excited to discuss these issues with Chair Rosenworcel.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Upcoming Events

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

Committee/Division calls

  • Jan. 25: Security, Risk, & Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 9: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 9: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 16: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Feb. 17: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Feb. 18: Public Policy Division Call–For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Feb. 18: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne