May 11, 2020

Sponsor

Annual T&T Event to Go All Virtual!

Dear UTC Members, Partners, and Stakeholders,

On behalf of the Utilities Technology Council, we want to thank you for your critical and long-lasting support of UTC. Everything we do is centered around providing our members, partners, and stakeholders with the data, content, and information you need to perform your vital jobs. Now more than ever, your work is an essential lifeline for the country and indeed the world.

UTC is extremely excited to announce that we will hold UTC Telecom & Technology 2020 as a virtual conference and expo. We will hold the virtual annual conference the week of Aug. – Sept. 4, 2020. We are taking this step as a way to ensure that as many of our members and attendees as possible can participate in our conference.

Keeping the UTC community informed is our top priority, and we understand there will be a lot of questions following this announcement. UTC is currently composing a FAQ document to provide as many details as possible. We appreciate your patience as we move forward. For questions and concerns, please contact meetings@utc.org.

UTC thanks all of our members, technology partners, and stakeholders who make our work possible. We are also especially grateful for the sacrifices many of you are making to keep powering our lives.

We look forward to virtually seeing everyone in August during the conference and expo.

More information will be available at the UTC and UTC Telecom & Technology websites soon!

White House Executive Order Seeks to Shore Up Grid Supply Chain

President Trump on May 1 issued an Executive Order aimed at mitigating threats to the Bulk Power System from the “unrestricted foreign supply of bulk power system equipment.”

According to a summary, the order authorizes the Secretary of Energy to do the following:

  • Establish and publish criteria for recognizing particular equipment and vendors as “pre-qualified” (pre-qualified vendor list).
  • Identify any now-prohibited equipment already in use, allowing the government to develop strategies and work with asset owners to identify, isolate, monitor, and replace this equipment as appropriate.
  • Work closely with the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior; the Director of National Intelligence; and other appropriate Federal agencies to carry out the authorities and responsibilities outlined in the Executive Order.

UTC has been in touch with the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), which was briefed by DOE recently.

UTC will note that similar efforts regarding the foreign supply of information and communications technology (ICT) equipment has been underway within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Commerce. We will be monitoring this activity closely and reporting back to our membership on developments.

For more information, please contact the Security, Risk, and Compliance Team.

UTC Webinar Explores How Utilities Can Bridge the Digital Divide

With the coronavirus pandemic laying bare the divide between those Americans with highly reliable broadband service and those who do not, a wide-ranging and influential audience of utilities, tech providers, and state policymakers learned how utilities can play a key role in bridging this divide.

UTC’s “Five Reasons Your Utility Should Consider Investing in Broadband” drew 92 registrants, ranging from core UTC utility members, technology providers, and state regulatory and consumer advocate staff.

Webinar panelists discussed how utilities are well-suited to address this need due to their infrastructure, experience, and unique partnership opportunities and options available. In addition, panelists highlighted the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which will make up to $20.4 billion available to utilities and other potential broadband suppliers.

The stellar lineup included Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley, Tilson Associate General Counsel Elin Swanson Katz, and United Electric Cooperative Chief Development Officer Darren Farnan, who also chairs UTC’s Utilities Broadband Committee.

Chairman Presley, who is serving a term as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, highlighted the immense need for broadband in his state. He pointed to a unique partnership between Entergy, the state’s largest investor-owned utility, and C-Spire, a regional telecom firm, to bring broadband service to parts of Mississippi. He also touted the PSC’s role in encouraging its other investor-owned utilities to consider ways to promote broadband through their integrated-resource plans.

Ms. Katz discussed the details of the Federal Communications Commission’s RDOF program and discussed the numerous ways utilities make “natural partners” for bridging the digital divide.

Mr. Farnan brought a “boots-on-the-ground” perspective from his role in leading United Electric Cooperative’s (UEC) broadband project. He noted that his community—like many rural areas—was desperate for internet connectivity, as residents and jobs were disappearing. As UEC has brought out its broadband service, it has not only improved his community’s economy, but has also resulted in a boon for the cooperative itself. Indeed, UEC’s broadband subsidiary is on pace to bring in more revenue than its core electric business, he said.

While scheduled to only run for an hour, the webinar went past its time as questions from attendees poured in. Unfortunately there was not enough time to get to the questions.

If you attended the webinar and asked a question that did not get answered, please let us know!

UTC recorded the webinar and will be replaying it at a later date. Please see the calendar below and online for the latest UTC webinar offerings.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Encourages Regulators to Give Utilities, CII Priority in 900 MHz Realignment

UTC filed an ex-parte letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) encouraging the agency to limit the use of the new broadband segment if it approves a proposal to realign the 900 MHz band for broadband purposes.

In a filing last week, UTC told the agency that taking this approach would help preserve the band for use by utilities and other business, industrial and land transportation (B/ILT) entities and prevent the broadband spectrum from being converted to commercial-common carrier service. The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) signed the filing as well.

The FCC at its May 13 open meeting is slated to approve a draft order that would realign the 900 MHz spectrum band for broadband purposes (Industry Intelligence, April 27, 2020). UTC released a summary of the draft order, which was posted on April 24.

UTC and EEI requested that the FCC limit the use of the new broadband segment exclusively for communications by and for entities who would be eligible for licensing under Section 90.603 of the commission’s rules. Doing so would ensure that the broadband segment is preserved for utilities and other business, industrial, and land transportation (B/ILT) entities.

“Without this provision in the rules, licenses in the 900 MHz broadband spectrum could be converted to commercial wireless common carrier service to the public at large, thus leaving B/ILT Part 90 eligible entities, especially utilities and other critical infrastructure industries (“CII”) without access to spectrum that they need to ensure highly reliable, available and secure communications for their business operations,” UTC and EEI said.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Calendar of Events

  • RESCHEDULED & VIRTUAL! 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

Webinars

  • May 18: Fiber Optics 101 for Utilities
  • May 19: Nokia Network Services Platform for Private Networks
  • May 20: How Virginia’s IOUs are Solving the Digital Divide

Committee/Division calls

  • May 12: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart at lockhart@utc.org
  • May 15: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • May 19: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • NO MEETING IN MAY: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • May 21: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • May 21: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer