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November 13, 2018



Florida Utilities Complete Power Restoration to Michael-Impacted Areas

Florida utilities hit hard by Hurricane Michael report that power has been restored to all customers.

For the first time since the storm hit last month, the Florida Public Service Commission reported last week that no customers impacted by Michael were out of service.

At its peak, Hurricane Michael—a Category 4 hurricane with top speed winds up to 155 mph—caused outages to approximately 2.5 million customers across the Southeast. The Florida panhandle was particularly hit hard, taking the brunt of the storm’s winds and storm surge.

Utilities from neighboring regions sent tens of thousands of workers to restore service after the storm.

“This is what dedication means,” said UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto. “My thanks to all the utility crews in Florida and beyond who answered the call in the face of such widespread devastation. Thank you for your service and commitment. You are crucial to enabling critical electric service.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Readies Advocacy Strategies as Congress Undergoes New Leadership

With the 2018 congressional mid-term elections in the rear view, UTC’s Public Policy Team is busy readying its advocacy and public-relations strategies for the new Congress.

Because UTC’s policy issues are non-partisan, UTC does not expect much change in its priorities next year, even though the House of Representatives will at that point be under Democratic control.

Indeed, UTC’s push for stronger collaboration between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Federal Communications Commission drew praise from both Republican and Democratic Senators at a Senate hearing last month (Industry Intelligence, Oct. 15, 2018).

“We believe one of our key messages calling for two government agencies to work together and understand how their policies impact the energy and telecommunications industries is about good government, not political parties,” said UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto. “The meetings we’ve had over the last few years with members of both parties demonstrate how this message resonates across the aisle. From a UTC perspective, last week’s elections mean a continuation of those important conversations and education.”

The new Congress officially begins the first week of January 2019. Over the next several weeks, Democrats and Republicans will sort out their new leadership, including committee and subcommittee chairs. In the meantime, the current Congress will reconvene next week to address appropriations legislation to fund the government after Dec. 7 and, in the Senate, agency and judicial nominees, including to the Federal Communications Commission, with expected adjournment sometime in mid-December.

For issues related to UTC, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will likely see current Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) become chairman, with current Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) becoming Ranking Member. The Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and Energy will also receive new leadership.

On the Senate side, because the Republicans retained control and expanded their majority, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will remain chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Media reports speculate that Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) may depart to take the same post at the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Additionally, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) is reportedly considering seeking a leadership position within the Senate Republican ranks, which, if true, would open up the top spot on the Commerce Committee.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC Launches Review of Wireless Resiliency Framework

Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai last week launched a comprehensive review of the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework, a voluntary wireless industry commitment to promote resilient wireless communications and situational awareness during disasters.

To aid this review, FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa M. Fowlkes sent letters to participating carriers, asking them to supply information regarding how they’ve implemented the framework in disaster situations over the past two years. Southern Linc was one of the carriers receiving a letter.

“The American people expect quick and effective recoveries from natural disasters like Hurricane Michael and other storms,” said Chairman Pai. “That’s why we are re-examining the last Administration’s framework to make sure all wireless carriers are meeting communities’ needs and doing everything they can to promptly restore service after a natural disaster.”

In her letters, Ms. Fowlkes asks wireless companies participating in the framework to summarize how it was used for all disaster events to which the framework applied. The letters request detailed lists of mutual aid and roaming agreements carriers have established with each other, as well as any instances where such agreements were modified, impeded, or even declined outright. The agency also asks for information as to each company’s implementation of industry best practices. This will also help inform the FCC’s review, announced by Chairman Pai last month, of wireless service outages after Hurricane Michael, the agency said.

The framework, created by the wireless industry and approved by the FCC in 2016, is intended to promote resilient wireless communications during disasters through measures related to roaming and mutual aid as well as coordination efforts. The framework set out a five-pronged approach for enhancing coordination during an emergency through (1) providing for reasonable roaming when technically feasible, (2) fostering mutual aid among wireless providers, (3) enhancing municipal preparedness and restoration by convening with local government public safety representatives to develop best practices and establishing a provider/911 call center contact database, (4) working to increase consumer readiness and preparation, and (5) improving public awareness and stakeholder communications on service and restoration status with county-by-county information.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

FCC Chair Names Members of New Disaster Response Working Group

Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this month named members of the new Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).

The Working Group is charged with recommending measures that can be taken to improve the resiliency of broadband infrastructure before a disaster occurs, as well as actions that can be taken to more quickly restore broadband infrastructure following a disaster. Following what he heard on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the Chairman has also charged the working group with developing best practices for coordination among wireless providers, backhaul providers, and power companies during and after a disaster.

“Broadband communications have become essential to the delivery of life-saving information in a disaster,” Chairman Pai said. “It’s critical to public safety that our broadband networks are as resilient as possible to prevent outages in a disaster and also can be restored as quickly as possible when an outage occurs.

“Recently, I announced that the FCC will comprehensively re-evaluate the agency’s Wireless Resiliency Framework. The BDAC Working Group’s recommendations will be key to this review. We encourage and expect all stakeholders—including government at all levels, power companies, fixed and mobile broadband providers, first responders, and others—to work together to develop ways to harden networks for future disasters and quickly restore communications services.”

A list of participants to the new working group can be found here. Georgia Power Distribution Support Manager Allen Bell was named to the panel, along with National Rural Electric Cooperative Association President and CEO Jim Matheson.

UTC will be closely monitoring the working group as it develops its recommendations. For more information, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

President Appoints Duke Energy’s Harrell to Lead DHS’s Infrastructure Protection Office

President Trump last week appointed a Duke Energy official to run the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) infrastructure protection program.

In a Nov. 5 notice, the President said he intends to appoint Brian Harrell, Managing Director of Enterprise Security at Duke Energy, to be Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at DHS.

The position does not require Senate confirmation, according to media reports.

According to DHS, the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) leads and coordinates national programs and policies on critical infrastructure security and resilience and has established strong partnerships across government and the private sector. The office conducts and facilitates vulnerability and consequence assessments to help critical infrastructure owners and operators and State, local, tribal, and territorial partners understand and address risks to critical infrastructure. IP provides information on emerging threats and hazards so that appropriate actions can be taken. The office also offers tools and training to partners to help them manage the risks to their assets, systems, and networks.

Before joining Duke Energy, Mr. Harrell was Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection Programs at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). While at NERC, Mr. Harrell also served as Director of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC). Before coming to the energy sector, Mr. Harrell served in the United States Marine Corps. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Hawaii Pacific University and master’s degree in Homeland Security from the Pennsylvania State University.

UTC participates in numerous DHS efforts related to infrastructure security, resilience, and much more. Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Upcoming Events

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

  • Nov. 13: Webinar–Securing the Digital Utility Transformation: Opportunities and the Way Forward; Registration Information
  • 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
  • Nov. 28: Webinar–Migrating a Utility Telecom Network to IP/MPLS – A Primer for Utilities Preparing to Migrate Their Networks to IP/MPLS; Registration Information


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