September 23, 2019

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UTC, Exelon Host Substation Tour to Demonstrate Criticality of 6 GHz Systems

UTC and core member Exelon hosted staff from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) at a substation in suburban Washington to demonstrate the criticality of Exelon’s 6 GHz microwave communications system to grid reliability.

The Sept. 10 event was intended to educate FCC staff members from the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), the office within the agency responsible for drafting the controversial proposal to expand the 6 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed use.

“The purpose of the meeting was to conduct a tour of one of Exelon’s substations and describe how Exelon’s 6 GHz microwave communications system supports the safe, reliable and secure operation of the substation, and provide perspective of the size and critical function of the transmission system,” UTC General Counsel and Vice President of Policy Brett Kilbourne wrote in a Sept. 13 ex-parte filing describing the tour.

The FCC last October initiated a rulemaking into opening the 6 GHz band to unlicensed, commercial use. The tour was the latest in a series of engagements with the FCC to detail how utilities and other critical-infrastructure industries rely on the band for mission-critical communications.

During the tour, Exelon officials discussed how their 6 GHz microwave communications system is used to send critical transmissions to generating facilities and provide SCADA and teleprotection services as well, tools used to monitor the utility’s transmission and distribution systems.

Importantly, the tour demonstrated that utility 6 GHz systems can be located in densely populated urban and suburban locations. “Additionally, Exelon explained that PEPCO’s service territory is a relatively dense and confined area of 640 square miles,” the notice said. “Its microwave links, therefore, are located in a highly populated, urban environment. Exelon representatives noted that other utilities have much larger service territories and significantly more microwave communications systems to support their operations.”

Exelon officials also discussed how their 6 GHz system requires 99.999 reliability, “in order to safely and effectively monitor and control substation operations and to isolate faults from cascading,” the ex-parte notice said.

UTC would like to thank Exelon for hosting the tour and providing the necessary logistics to make it happen. Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

Imelda Leaves Heavy Flooding, Outages in Its Wake

Hundreds of electric utility workers in Texas and nearby areas are assisting in the restoration of power in the wake of Tropical Depression Imelda, which saturated the Texas Gulf Coast with upwards of 40 inches of rain last week.

According to Entergy, nearly 34,000 customers remained out of power as of Sept. 19 due to the storm, though the utility reported that it anticipated that all customers would be back online by Sept. 21. Restoration times have been complicated due to the immense rainfall associated with the storm.

Tropical Depression Imelda made landfall near Freemont, Texas, on Sept. 18 and dropped nearly 40 inches of rain in some areas as it made its way to Houston and elsewhere over the next several days. Many of these locations were hit with massive flooding two years ago in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Although Entergy expected to restore power to all customers by Saturday, it noted that the rain and resulting flood waters could push this schedule back. “Ongoing road conditions, flooding, access to power lines and the extent of damage to equipment all affect these estimates and how long it will take to restore power,” the utility said in a Sept. 19 statement.

For the latest updates, please follow Entergy’s outage updates here: https://www.etrviewoutage.com/map?state=tx&_ga=2.129207308.1805489026.1568992432-1254757890.1568992432

UTC sends its appreciation to all those utility crews working in harm’s way to restore service as quickly and safely as possible. Thank you!

Take Advantage of Low Hotel Rates By Booking UTC Power Grid 4.0 Today!

Planning on attending UTC’s Power Grid 4.0—Digitalization Forum next month in Montreal? Book your hotel by COB Sept. 23 and save!

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.

For all the details about the speakers and meeting agendas, please visit the event website: https://utcpowergrid.org/

“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.

UTC Hosts Nov. 6-8 5G, Broadband Workshop

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/.

UTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

*NOTE: UTC issued a Call for Proposals for the May 2020 Telecom & Technology Annual Conference! Got a great idea for a panel? Let us know by Sept. 30!

  • Oct. 2-4: Region 3 Meeting; Mobile, AL – click here
  • Oct. 10-11: Region 10 Meeting; Las Vegas – click here
  • Oct. 16-18: Power Grid 4.0 Digitalization Forum, Montreal, CN—For more information, click here
  • Nov. 6-8: UTC 5G, Broadband & Small Cells Workshop, Nashville – click here
  • May 18-22, 2020: Telecom & Technology Annual Meeting, Providence, RI – click here

CONFERENCE CALLS/WEBINARS!

  • Oct. 1: Training Webinar! Fiber to the Premise
  • Oct. 8: UtiliSite Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Oct. 8: Knowledge & Learning Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Oct. 15: Training Webinar! Teleprotection over Packet Networking
  • Oct. 15: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Oct. 16: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Oct. 17: Technical Division Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Oct. 17: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Oct. 17: Public Policy Division Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Oct. 18: Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Sharla Artz
    Oct. 22: Training Webinar! LTE & Future 5G for the Utility
    Oct. 23: Sponsored Webinar! RFL: Substation IP Modernization
    Oct. 30: Sponsored Webinar! Aviat: OT over Packet Radio—Chugach Case Study