September 10, 2018

SPONSOR

RFL_INTELSPONSOR_JUNE_2018 (1)

New Industry Intelligence Format Debuts!

Welcome to the new and improved Industry Intelligence!

You’ll find some new features and a slick design to go along with the same great content! Also, we’re now available online! We hope this new format makes your jobs easier while also informing you of the latest news and developments from Washington.

Happy reading!

FCC Proposes to Restrict Municipal Review of Small-Cell Devices

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) will take up a proposal at its Sept. 25 open meeting to expedite local review of small cellular devices while also capping the fees municipalities can charge for processing small-cell applications.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr unveiled the proposal at a speech last week in Indianapolis.

Commissioner Carr said the draft order is an effort to remove regulations and reduce the costs for the wireless industry to deploy small cell devices on municipally owned infrastructure, including utility poles. According to the Commissioner, the draft order is modeled on small-cell legislation that has already passed in 20 states which reduces regulatory oversight of municipalities in their review of small-cellular devices.

The text of Commissioner Carr’s plan was made available right before press time. In his remarks, the Commissioner said his proposal has four tenants. The proposal:

  • Implements long-standing federal law that bars municipal rules that have the effect of prohibiting deployment of wireless service
  • Allows municipalities to charge fees for reviewing small cell deployments when such fees are limited to recovering the municipalities’ costs, and provides guidance on specific fee levels that would comply with this standard
  • Requires municipalities to approve or disapprove applications to attach small cells to existing structures within 60 days and applications to build new small cell poles within 90 days
  • Places modest guardrails on other municipal rules that may prohibit service while reaffirming localities’ traditional roles in, for example, reasonable aesthetic reviews

UTC Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Brett Kilbourne said that while UTC has not had a chance to thoroughly review the details—which were just released—the proposal seems, once again, to heavily favor the wireless industry. The plan unnecessarily limits local authorities’ review of the small-cell siting process by imposing strict, one-size-fits-all timelines for action. UTC staff will provide more analysis to its members over the next several weeks.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Rural Cooperatives Rank Among the Winners in the FCC’s Broadband Auction

More than 30 electric cooperative utilities were among the winners of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) auction to provide grants aimed at reducing the costs of deploying broadband in unserved parts of the U.S.

The FCC released the results of the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) reverse auction late last month.

According to the Commission, it awarded nearly $1.5 billion to entities in 45 states to expand broadband in rural locations. Of the winners, 33 represented electric cooperatives, who will receive approximately $220 million over the next 10 years.

“The successful conclusion of this first-of-its-kind auction is great news for the residents of these rural communities, who will finally be able to share in the 21st-century digital opportunities that broadband provides,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “By tapping the mechanisms of the marketplace, the Phase II auction served as the most appropriate and cost-effective way to allocate funding for broadband in these unserved communities, bringing the highest-quality broadband services to the most consumers at the lowest cost to the ratepayer.”

UTC and its Utilities Broadband Committee advocated for weighting factors that would facilitate successful bids by entities like rural cooperatives. UTC CEO Joy Ditto applauded the results and highlighted the Association’s efforts in ensuring the auction was a success.

“My congratulations to all the utility winners in the CAF II auction,” Ditto said. “Additionally, my thanks to the FCC for developing this program and including rural utilities in its efforts. As these results demonstrate, utilities empower rural broadband throughout the country. I am especially thankful to our Utilities Broadband Committee for educating and preparing our members for this process. In particular, I’d like to highlight the work of our members who volunteered their time and energy to ensure the FCC’s auction worked efficiently and effectively, and who are delivering robust reliable and affordable broadband services to areas that were previously completely unserved. Congratulations!”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC: Conference Highlights Needs for FERC-FCC Meetings

UTC reiterated its request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hold formal meetings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to educate and inform both agencies as the energy and telecommunications industries become more interdependent.

In comments submitted last week, UTC highlighted dialogue from FERC’s July 31 technical conference on reliability. During the conference, Commissioners and panelists discussed the importance of broadband access to the deployment of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). If broadband is not available in certain areas, utilities will not be able to bring DERs to their customers, panelists said (Industry Intelligence, Aug. 6, 2018).

UTC said this discussion underscored the need for FERC and the FCC to hold meetings together and discuss issues of shared importance.

“As FERC knows—and its regulations indicate—the nation’s electric utilities deliver essential public services to all Americans,” UTC said. “FERC requires electric utilities to meet stringent reliability standards in order to provide the highest levels of reliable service as demanded by the government and, more importantly, the industry’s customers. Although telecommunications policy is managed by the FCC, the exchanges highlighted above from the Reliability Technical Conference demonstrate the need for this Commission to consider opportunities to establish formal and recurring meetings with its sister federal agency to acknowledge the utility industry’s growing reliance on ICT networks.”

Utility Information and Communications Technology networks are not only crucial for reliability but also for the deployment of DERs and other technological advances, UTC wrote.

“These jurisdictional overlaps speak to the growing interdependencies between the telecommunications and energy sectors,” UTC wrote. “Not only is spectrum needed for day-to-day reliability on the Bulk Power System, but it is essential for ‘smart grid’ and utility of the future applications. As the use of these resources grows, electric utilities will need more spectrum to continue the reliable operation of their systems. The testimony highlighted above proves that the transition to a more consumer-centric, distributed utility industry requires a clear recognition of these cross-sector interdependencies and collaboration across government.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Senate Confirms DOE Cybersecurity Chief Evans

After winning Senate confirmation late last month, Karen Evans last week officially took her post as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) first Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER).

President Trump appointed Assistant Secretary Evans for the job in mid-June (Industry Intelligence, June 18, 2018); she was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 28.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as the first Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response at the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Assistant Secretary Evans. “I look forward to working with industry to provide the most advanced and secure energy infrastructure to the American people, and overcoming the challenges ahead in response to manmade and natural disasters.”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry established the new office in February (Industry Intelligence, Feb. 19, 2018). The new office will focus on issues related to cyber and physical security in the energy sector, along with supporting any national security responsibilities given to DOE.

Prior to joining DOE, Assistant Secretary Evans headed the U.S. Cyber Challenge, an initiative aimed at expanding and promoting the cybersecurity workforce. Prior to that, she served numerous leadership roles in the federal government, eventually serving as the de-facto federal Chief Information Officer in the George W. Bush administration. Before that appointment, Ms. Evans served as the CIO for the Energy Department.

“My congratulations to Assistant Secretary Evans upon her confirmation to this important posting,” said UTC Vice President of Government Affairs, Policy, and Cybersecurity Sharla Artz. “She brings valuable experience from both the public and the private sectors. We look forward to working with the Assistant Secretary on these important issues.”

For more information, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

Upcoming Events

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

  • Sept. 11: UtiliSite Committee Call; for more information, contact Bobbi Harris
  • Sept. 18: Utilities Broadband Committee Call; for more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Sept. 19: IT/OT Committee Call; for more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Sept. 20: Public Policy Division Call; for more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Sept. 26-28: EUTC Annual Conference, Malmo, Sweden; Registration Open Now!
  • Regional Meetings! Click here for a list of the fall regional meetings!