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November 05, 2018



House Lawmaker Urges FCC to Make Enforceable Wireless Resilience Rules

A key House lawmaker asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) to expand and enforce rules related to wireless emergency response and network resiliency.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai after state and local officials criticized the wireless industry for their response to Hurricane Michael.

Ranking Member Pallone asked Chairman Pai to initiate a rulemaking that would expand and make enforceable the Commission’s Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, a volunteer pact the FCC established in late 2016 to promote resilient wireless communications and situational awareness during and after disasters.

“The frailty of some communications networks has caused customers in Michael’s footprint to suffer long service outages, depriving people of vital tools to keep in touch with first responders, friends, and loved ones,” Rep. Pallone wrote. “This is simply unacceptable.”

According to media reports, Chairman Pai indicated that he is considering a reevaluation of the framework in the wake of Michael, which slammed the Florida panhandle and disrupted electricity to 2.5 million customers in the Southeast. Nearly all electricity service has been restored except to homes and businesses physically unable to safely accept electricity. Meanwhile, as of Oct. 26, 2% of cellular sites in the areas impacted by the storm remain offline, according to the FCC.

“Resilient communications networks can mean the difference between life and death during and after a storm… To that end, I urge you to begin a rulemaking before the end of the year to ensure that Americans can count on more resilient communications networks by next hurricane season,” Ranking Member Pallone wrote.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

DOE Initiates $4M Competition for Grid-Optimization Software

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry last week announced the launch of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) first ever Grid Optimization (GO) Competition. The GO Competition, created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), is a series of challenges to develop software management solutions for a reliable, resilient and secure American electricity grid. The DOE announcement marks the beginning of GO Challenge 1, offering up to $4 million in prizes to develop new algorithms to make routing power across the grid faster and more efficient.

According to the agency, the GO Competition will consist of multiple challenge rounds. The first will focus on the problem of security constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF). Competitors will develop software to route power in a reliable and cost-effective way to customers across a power grid. Competitors will test their algorithms on complex, realistic power system models, and participants will be scored on their performance relative to other competitors. Challenge winners will find an efficient, minimum-cost solution to the SCOPF problem, DOE said.

“A secure, resilient, and reliable electrical grid is essential for American families and small businesses, as well as our national security,” said Secretary Perry. “Through the GO Competition, we are calling on the ingenuity of the U.S. innovation community to help us modernize our grid and address the challenges it is facing today and tomorrow.”

DOE noted that the software currently being used was designed for a power grid built around large, centralized power plants. In recent years, the grid has become more diverse, with the rapid development of new energy sources like battery storage, wind and solar power, and distributed energy resources (DER) creating a new set of grid management challenges. Grid operators require new approaches to the underlying modeling, optimization, and control methods that will ultimately increase grid flexibility, reliability, and resilience, DOE said.

The GO Competition was developed by ARPA-E with support from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). A summary of the GO Competition Challenge 1 can be found here. Additional information, including competition rules, can be found here.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Energy Department Establishes Rules for Release of Critical Electricity Data

The Department of Energy (DOE) last week released a proposed rulemaking dealing with administrative procedures to implement the agency’s designation authority for Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII).

According to DOE, this action will ensure that the agency is compliant with its responsibilities and authorities under the Federal Power Act and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The publication of the Notice in the Federal Register on Monday, October 29, 2018, initiates a 60-day public comment period that will close on Dec. 31, 2018.

“The proposed CEII rule is a vital step forward in protecting the nation’s energy critical infrastructure and ensuring a reliable and resilient flow of energy to America’s communities and businesses,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

CEII is non-classified national security information about a system or asset of the bulk-power system, whether physical or virtual, that if destroyed or incapacitated, would negatively affect the national security, economic security, public health or safety, or any combination of such effects, DOE said. A CEII designation exempts the submitted information about physical and virtual assets of the bulk-power system from public release under the Freedom of Information Act. As a general principle, DOE said it does not intend to designate information as CEII if it has been made publicly available by an owner or generator of the CEII previously.

In addition to establishing a set of procedures by which the Secretary of Energy would designate, protect and share CEII, the DOE proposed rule also sets forth provisions concerning the type of information that the DOE would designate as CEII at the time that the information is submitted in response to a request from DOE. The procedures do not contemplate any new information collection or storage techniques, but instead, describe simple marking protocols for physical and electronic materials to indicate that they are to be treated as CEII.

According to DOE, the proposed rule also seeks to harmonize its CEII designation procedures with those existing regulations used by the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) to carry out its shared CEII authority under 215A of the Federal Power Act. The proposed procedures also provide for DOE coordination with other federal agencies to facilitate mutual understanding and implementation among federal information classification programs as it may relate to CEII. Finally, DOE said it included a proposed process for early coordination with those submitters of potential CEII-designated materials to facilitate voluntary sharing of CEII with, between and by Federal and non-federal entities as appropriate.

More information about the Critical Electric Infrastructure Information Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available on the Federal Register.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

DHS Formally Unveils First ICT Supply Chain Risk-Management Task Force

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week unveiled the formation and chartering of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force, a public-private partnership to examine and develop consensus recommendations to identify and manage risk to the global ICT supply chain.

“Threats to the nation’s IT and communications supply chain can severely impact our national security and nearly every facet of our economy” said National Protection and Programs Directorate Under Secretary Christopher Krebs. “The nature of supply chain threats, because they can encompass a product’s entire life cycle and often involve hardware, make them particularly challenging to defend against. Government and industry have a shared interest and thus a shared responsibility in identifying and mitigating these threats in partnership. The Task Force will seek holistic solutions across a broad set of stakeholders to develop near-and long-term strategies to address supply chain risks.”

“The Department of Homeland Security and the ICT sector understand that fostering resilient global supply chains is a critical priority,” said John Miller, Vice President for Policy and Law at ITI and co-chair of the task force. “The ICT Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force presents a unique opportunity for industry and government to collaborate to comprehensively assess and proactively address the global supply chain risks facing companies and their customers alike. We thank DHS for its leadership on these important issues and we look forward to working with the Department and other stakeholders.”

The Task Force is a key component of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD) Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM) Program. The C-SCRM Program leads national efforts to address risks to ICT product and service supply chains by developing and deploying supply chain risk management capabilities for Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies, private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators, and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. The Task Force, sponsored by the DHS National Risk Management Center, is the main private sector point of entry for the C-SCRM Program and is jointly chaired by DHS and the chairs of the Information Technology (IT) and Communications Sector Coordinating Councils.

Task Force membership will include representatives from an impressive roster of companies across the IT and Communications Sectors. The Task Force will first meet as a group in the coming weeks. Following that meeting, initial work streams and a formal membership list will be announced.

UTC is involved in DHS and other federal cybersecurity efforts through participation in the Communications Sector Coordinating Council, Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, and the Critical Manufacturing Subsector Coordinating Council. Please contact the UTC Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee with any questions.

Upcoming Events

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

  • Nov. 13: UtiliSite Committee Call; for more information, contact Bobbi Harris
  • Nov. 15: Telecom Committee Call; for more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Nov. 15: Public Policy Division Call; for more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Nov. 16: Security, Risk, & Compliance Committee Webinar, for more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Nov. 20: Utilities Broadband Committee Call; for more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Nov. 21: IT/OT Committee Call; for more information, contact Bob Lockhart


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