March 23, 2020

Sponsor

T&T, Region 6, Broadband Work Events Rescheduled for Late Summer, Fall

A Note to our Readers:

We know this is an unprecedented time for our members and our industry; your work now is more important than ever. Because of your critical work, many of you are temporarily unable to travel.

Therefore we are postponing our remaining spring conference dates to later this year to allow more of you to join us and use these events as a time to explore the key issues and challenges facing the utility sector along with networking with your industry peers and colleagues.

First, we are rescheduling our flagship national meeting—Telecom & Technology 2020—from May 18-22 to Aug. 31-Sept. 4. This is our biggest event of the year and we want to see as many of our members and supporters as possible. Coming together during such an unprecedented time will be the biggest cure for all of us.

In addition, the UTC Utility Broadband Workshop is being rescheduled for Aug. 4-6, and the UTC Region 6 Meeting is being rescheduled for Oct. 12-14.

If you have registered for any of these meetings, your registration will automatically be applied to the new dates.

If you have made reservations at any of the conference hotels, they will automatically cancel your room reservations if you booked in the UTC room block. If you booked outside of the UTC room block and/or through a third party or if you have any questions about your reservations, please contact the hotels directly at the numbers listed below.

The hotels are working on providing new reservation links for the new meeting dates. We will provide those links as soon as they are available.

Hotel information and FAQs for each event are listed below:

  • UTC TELECOM & TECHNOLOGY 2020 – Omni Hotels & Resorts
    • Reservation Questions call 401.598.8000
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event
  • UTC Utility Broadband Workshop – Fairfield Inn & Suites Charlotte Uptown
    • Reservation Questions call 704.372.7550
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event
  • UTC Region 6 Meeting – DoubleTree by Hilton Kansas City – Overland Park
    • Reservation Questions call 913.451.6100
    • Click here for a FAQ Document regarding the rescheduled event

Thank you for all you are doing for our nation during this time. UTC is here to assist you in any way we can.

For questions and concerns, please contact meetings@utc.org.

And thank you for your support of UTC; we look forward to your participation at our events later in the year.

FCC Grants UTC Request for More Time to Comply with 3650-3700 MHz Rules

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau last week granted a request from UTC and extended the deadline for certain licensees in the 3650- 3700 MHz band to transition their existing Part 90 operations—which are used to provide highspeed broadband, utility communications, and other essential wireless services—to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

Under the March 19 FCC order, Part 90 licensees that would have been required to transition before Oct. 17, 2020 will now have until Oct. 17, 2020 to complete their transitions.

This will not impact the timing of the June 25, 2020 auction of Priority Access Licensees in the 3.5 GHz Band, the FCC said.

UTC and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) requested the extension to provide more time for existing licensees in the band to transition their networks.

UTC appreciates this action and believes this action will provide utilities with additional time to comply with the new rules.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Proactive Response Means Utilities are Ready for Coronavirus

Electric, water, and natural gas utilities across the U.S., including core UTC members, are responding to the coronarvirus doing what they do best: Providing safe, efficient, and reliable utility services.

Utilities across the country have pledged to keep all customers connected throughout this time and are taking proactive steps to keep their own workforce safe.

“It should come as no surprise that our industry has already implemented and adopted numerous precautions to protect their workforce and ensure the continued supply of reliable electric service,” said UTC Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Sharla Artz. “On behalf of UTC, I wish to thank our utilities for doing what they always do: keep the lights on and the water and gas flowing.”

The Electric Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), the utility industry’s liaison with the federal government on emergency response, released a resource guide earlier this month to help the industry prepare and respond to the current crisis.

The guide noted that all utilities will maintain ongoing discussions about the pandemic and other potential threats, including virus infection rates, public health emergency declarations, school closures, access to health care, and much more.

Utilities are also taking steps to protect their workforce. The ESCC guide noted that depending on whether and how the pandemic escalates, utilities will institute teleworking arrangements (which is already occurring), limiting attendance at various events and meetings, and other steps as needed.

In addition, utilities providing broadband service to their communities are also taking steps to keep their customers online. OzarksGo, a subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative in Northeast Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas, said it is temporarily doubling the speed of some of its internet plans at no additional cost to its customers. It is taking this step to assist the high number of people working from home due to the virus.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FERC, NERC Provide Guidance to Ensure Reliability Amid Potential Coronavirus Impacts 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) last week said they are taking steps to ensure that operators of the bulk electric system can focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.

FERC and NERC are using regulatory discretion to advise all registered entities that they will consider the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in complying with Reliability Standards as follows:

  • The effects of the coronavirus will be considered an acceptable basis for non-compliance with obtaining and maintaining personnel certification, as required in Reliability Standard PER-003-2, for the period of March 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Registered entities should notify their Regional Entities and Reliability Coordinators when using system operator personnel that are not NERC-certified.
  • The effects of the coronavirus will be considered an acceptable reason for case-by-case non-compliance with Reliability Standard requirements involving periodic actions that would have been taken between March 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. Registered entities should notify their Regional Entities of any periodic actions that will be missed during this period.
  • Regional Entities will postpone on-site audits, certifications and other on-site activities at least until July 31, 2020. Registered entities should communicate any resource impacts associated with remote activities to their Regional Entities.

“FERC and NERC recognize the uncertainties regarding the response to and recovery from the coronavirus outbreak and will continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether to extend these dates,” the entities said. “Our shared goal is to ensure all registered entities balance the concerns for the health and welfare of their workforce while staying focused on the mission of supplying power to consumers across North America.”

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI
  • RESCHEDULED! Oct. 12-14: Region 6 Meeting, Double Tree by Hilton Kansas City-Overland Park
  • RESCHEDULED! Aug. 4-6: Broadband Workshop, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Charlotte

Committee/Division calls

  • April 14: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart at lockhart@utc.org
  • April 15: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 16: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • April 16: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • April 17: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • April 21: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne