January 27, 2020

Draft Policy Resolutions for May 2020 T&T Meeting Due This Friday!

UTC core utility members have until this Friday to submit ideas or concepts for potential policy resolutions to be adopted at the association’s annual Telecom & Technology conference next May.

This is the third time UTC pursues policy positions through the resolution process as approved by the UTC Board in its December 2017 meeting.

Any UTC core utility member can submit a proposed resolution or ideas for a resolution to UTC’s Public Policy Team by Jan. 31. Only UTC core utility members can submit a resolution; if a vendor member has an idea, it must be sponsored and submitted by a core utility member.

Once all the proposed resolutions are collected by UTC staff, the Public Policy Division (PPD) will formally accept and discuss the proposals during its regularly scheduled February meeting. PPD members will have the opportunity to edit and debate the proposed resolutions prior to its March call, at which point the division will vote on the resolutions. This call will be open to all UTC core utility members.

Any resolutions cleared by the PPD will be submitted for review and consideration by the entire UTC membership at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting in Providence, RI, from May 18-22. Resolutions for consideration at the annual meeting must be distributed to the entire association membership no later than two weeks prior to the event. Additionally, the proposed resolutions will also be posted on the UTC Website.

UTC’s core utility members will vote on the proposed resolutions during the association’s business meeting at the annual conference. Each UTC core utility member company will have one vote during the meeting, meaning that core members must designate one person to cast the company’s vote.

Any resolutions approved at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting will be considered official UTC policy and will inform the association as it advocates for its members in Washington and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team. An FAQ about the resolutions process is available here.

Resolutions approved at since 2018 annual meeting are available here.

UTC’s Artz Talks Spectrum, FCC Challenges at USEA Annual Conference

UTC continued its presence at the U.S. Energy Association’s annual State of the Energy Industry event last week in downtown Washington.

For the third consecutive year, UTC was provided a prime speaking slot on what is traditionally the first major energy policy conference of the new year in Washington.

Senior Vice President of Government and External Relations Sharla Artz represented UTC at this year’s event, held on Jan. 23 at the prestigious National Press Club.

Ms. Artz provided background information about UTC and discussed our top priority issues, starting with the criticality of utility communications networks.

She discussed the significant challenges the industry continues to at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission), the agency which oversees commercial spectrum allocation. In many FCC proceedings, “our voice is not heard,” she said.

That’s why UTC is leading outreach with other federal agencies including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy, members of Congress, and fellow trade associations to put pressure on the FCC to better acknowledge and recognize the utility industry’s concerns, she said.

In addition, Ms. Artz noted that another federal entity—the National Telecommunications and Information Administration—is in the midst of developing a national spectrum strategy. UTC is focused on using this initiative to ensure that utility needs are front and center as NTIA proceeds, she said.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Seeks Members’ Input for 2020 Education Program

UTC is planning an aggressive education program for 2020, with monthly themes focused on our members’ most critical needs.

To best serve our members, UTC is currently running a short survey, asking our members to rank 17 different topics on a scale from job-critical to uninteresting. UTC members perform a diverse set of job duties for a diverse set of utilities, so it is important for us to understand the needs of such a wide-ranging audience.

We have crafted this survey to require less than 10 minutes of your time.

Please take a few minutes to respond and to help UTC develop an education program that is valuable to you!

The survey is anonymous, though you do have the option to identify yourself if you would like us to follow-up with you.

You can access the survey here: https://www.research.net/r/UTC_2020_Educational_Program

FERC Accepts NERC Performance Assessment, Approves Standards on Control Center Comms

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week approved two reliability standards and endorsed the continued work of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), now in its thirteenth year as the nation’s Electric Reliability Organization (ERO).

During its Jan. 23 open meeting, the Commission determined that NERC continues to demonstrate its ability to develop and enforce reliability standards and satisfies the criteria for certification as the ERO that is responsible for developing and enforcing the Commission’s mandatory reliability standards. The Commission also found that NERC’s regional entities also meet the requirements for delegated authority to enforce the standards.

FERC addressed these issues in its periodic assessment of NERC’s performance. As in earlier assessments of NERC’s performance, the Commission identified areas for improvement: the ERO’s periodic audits of the regional entities, its use of reliability and security guidelines to address risks, performance metrics and oversight of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, sanctions guidelines and its organization certification program.

FERC also directed NERC to amend its sanction guidelines to provide more transparency into how it applies penalties, adjustment factors and non-monetary sanctions.

Separately, the Commission also approved reliability standards for and Cyber Security — Communications between Control Centers (RM18-20-000, CIP-012-1).

According to the Commission, the cyber standard enhances current Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards on mitigating risks associated with communications between bulk electric system control centers. It requires responsible entities to protect the confidentiality and integrity of real-time assessment and real-time monitoring data transmitted between control centers. The order also directs NERC to develop further modifications requiring protections regarding the availability of communication links and data communicated between those control centers.

Both final rules take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

UTC’s Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee (SRCC) updates its members on the latest on federal security standards and related initiatives. Please contact the SRCC team for more information.

FERC Remains Focused on Huawei, Supply Chain Concerns: Chairman

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC, the Commission) is focused on addressing cyber-related threats to the energy infrastructure supply chain, including those that may be posed by China-based vendor Huawei Technologies, Co., the agency chairman told lawmakers last week.

In a letter to Sen. James Risch (R-ID), FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee assured the senator that the Commission is aware of potential concerns about potential threats to the energy sector supply chain and is in contact with federal and industry partners.

“In particular, my colleagues and I at the Commission will continue to work with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and our federal partners including the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat posed by Huawei and take additional action as appropriate,” Chatterjee wrote.

Sen. Risch wrote to FERC in early December noting that FERC is responsible for overseeing electric-grid reliability and urged the agency to take steps to focus on cybersecurity and supply chain issues. Sen. Risch specifically mentioned Huawei-manufactured equipment, which may be found along energy infrastructure.

Chairman Chatterjee told the Senator that he has told his staff to “redouble their efforts” to work with FERC-regulated companies and state regulators to provide them with appropriate information as well. “Let me assure you that I appreciate and share your concerns about the need to protect our nation’s electric grid from foreign intrusion,” he wrote.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls