Due to the Columbus Day holiday, Industry Intelligence will not publish next week. We will return on Oct. 21 with fresh content for our readers.
Thank you for everything you do!
–The Industry Intelligence Team
UTC, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) are working jointly to push back against a broadside petition pending at the FCC to give the wireless industry even more authority to site their equipment on all kinds of utility infrastructure.
UTC, EEI, and NRECA have held several calls with members of all three organizations to plot out our response to the petitions filed by CTIA and the Wireless Infrastructure Association, which both request that the FCC take swift action to remove even more regulatory requirements on their attempts to attach small-cellular devices to utility infrastructure (Industry Intelligence, Sept. 16, 2019).
In a small victory late last month, the FCC moved back the comment deadline on the proposal after UTC and other utility groups, along with a coalition of state and local governments, sought an extension of time in the proceeding. Comments are now due on Oct. 29, with replies due Nov. 13. Originally, comments were due on Oct. 15 (Industry Intelligence, Sept. 30, 2019).
Meanwhile, in related news, the U.S. Court of Appeals appears to have granted utilities a pole-attachment victory when it remanded rules approved in 2017 back to the agency for additional deliberation.
The Court last week made this determination when it upheld most of the FCC’s controversial “Restoring Internet Freedom” order, which removed regulations that prevented internet-service providers from blocking, throttling, or slowing down internet traffic.
As part of the 2017 internet order, the FCC ruled that all broadband providers should be entitled to the same regulatory rate for pole attachments as those entities providing voice and/or cable services.
While the Court largely upheld the majority of the 2017 rule, it tossed out the agency’s decision on pole attachments and ordered it to resolve the issue in a way that complies with existing law. “The Commission offered, at best, scattered and unreasoned observations” on this issue, the court ruled.
The UTC Public Policy Team is still examining the Court’s ruling and potential impacts on utility pole attachments. We believe this is a positive development and will report more later.
Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.
There’s still time to attend UTC’s Power Grid 4.0—Digitalization Forum this month in Montreal!
Electric utility executives all over North America are welcome to Montréal to share best practices and lessons learned about digitalization. Across the globe, electric utilities are looking to go digital as they modernize their systems to enable greater customer engagement and deploy new and emerging distribution technologies. This forum will be a first in North America.
UTC’s Power Grid 4.0—Digitalization Forum will be held in Montreal from Oct. 16-18, 2019. The event is hosted by Hydro Quebec with the premier sponsor being SNC-Lavalin, an engineering partner expert at mastering complex projects over the last 100 years. The event’s other sponsors include Linxon, Juniper Networks, and Black & Veatch. E&E News, a widely read industry publishing company, is a media sponsor of the event.
“This event will be a key global forum for utilities, policymakers, our vendor partners, and other stakeholders to discuss these important issues,” said UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto. “By bringing major decisionmakers and executives in North America under one roof, we can learn from each other as utilities consider enhancing investments into new and emerging technologies. My thanks to Hydro Quebec for hosting and SNC-Lavalin for their important sponsorship.”
Nearly all utilities deploy their own information and communications technology (ICT) networks to provide day-to-day situational awareness of their infrastructure. As utilities invest in grid modernization in response to customer demand, these networks are being transformed to enable greater deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources that require a more flexible grid. To support grid modernization, the investment in digital assets is paramount, and C-level executives are continuing to realize that now is the time to allocate resources to transform their core utility business.
That’s why the Digitalization Forum is so timely.
“Managing energy supply and demand is evolving and the interconnectivity between customers and utilities is changing our industry. Great relationship between the North American Utilities is key to develop and offer a better outcome that suits the customers’ needs. Hydro Québec is pleased to participate to this first digitalization forum, that brings together, all the major players of our industry to share expertise and best practices, to come up with real solutions and improve performance for the next generations,” said David Murray Chief Operating Officer of Hydro-Québec and President of Hydro-Québec Production.
‘’A vast portion of the power utility infrastructure in North America was constructed in the 1960s and is nearing ‘end of life.’ Power utilities are replacing their equipment while taking into account the numerous changes facing the industry. Such a digital transformation requires capital investments which, if done correctly, can be offset by significant reductions in operational cost. This forum has been created in order to address these issues,’’ said Alain Brière, vice-president & general manager Intelligent Networks & Cybersecurity, SNC-Lavalin.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is urging the Department of Energy (DOE) and related agencies to take a broader approach to shoring up the cybersecurity of the electricity grid.
In a report last month to Congress, GAO acknowledged that DOE plays a key role in addressing cyber risks related to the grid, but says the agency “has not developed plans for electric-grid cybersecurity that addresses key characteristics needed for a national strategy.”
“Although the Department of Energy (DOE) has developed plans and an assessment to implement a federal strategy for addressing grid cybersecurity risks, these documents do not fully address all of the key characteristics needed for a national strategy,” according to the report. “For example, while DOE conducted a risk assessment, that assessment had significant methodological limitations and did not fully analyze grid cybersecurity risks. One such key limitation was that the assessment used a model that covered only a portion of the grid and reflected how that portion existed around 1980. Until DOE has a complete grid cybersecurity plan, the guidance the plan provides decision makers in allocating resources to address those risks will likely be limited.”
GAO recommends that DOE consult with other agencies like the Department of Homeland Security on such a national approach. The report also urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) determine whether it should direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop standards that are closely aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework.
Finally, the report suggests that FERC should evaluate the risk of a coordinated cyberattack on “geographically distributed” targets around the country, and, based on that evaluation, direct NERC to develop standards to address those concerns.
“FERC should (1) evaluate the potential risk of a coordinated cyberattack on geographically distributed targets and, (2) based on the results of that evaluation, determine whether to direct NERC to make any changes to the threshold for mandatory compliance with requirements in the full set of cybersecurity standards,” the report said.
Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.
We are less than two months away from UTC’s critical workshop on 5G, broadband, and small-cell deployment from Nov. 6-8 just outside Nashville, TN. Have you registered?
The workshop will address how utilities are key players in the deployment of new communications technologies expected to unleash a wave of faster and broader connectivity. As bandwidth demand for these communications technologies, including both wireless and wireline, increases, so too does the demand on utilities, both in terms of increased broadband capacity and infrastructure access.
At the workshop, panelists will address what these changes mean for the deployment of fiber for retail and wholesale communications, including broadband for rural unserved areas and backhaul for wireless networks. Attendees will learn how upgrading wireline and wireless networks improve utility communications, including for grid modernization and the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
Finally, this workshop will address the implications for more small wireless antennas being attached to utility infrastructure, along with more regulations for faster deployment of the antennas and related equipment.
For more information, click here: https://utc.org/event/5g-and-utilities-workshop/.
Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls