From Region 7 to Capitol Hill, with Birthdays and Candy Hearts In Between

February 28, 5:29 pm

It is February 28, and I am in the Atlanta airport en route to Chattanooga for the UTC Region 3 spring meeting. The weather has been so warm in the mid-Atlantic and South that thunderstorms are creeping in like it’s April or May. Not that I am complaining (although complaining about the weather is kind of fun and could even be considered a national pastime) …this time last year, in D.C., we were still knee-deep in snow.

Since last I wrote, I have been to the Region 7 meeting in San Antonio, celebrated my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday, Valentine’s Day and my birthday. All fun at the time, but I’m kind of glad to put the cake and random Valentine’s candy-eating (I really don’t like candy hearts, but will eat them, oh yes I will) behind me.

Just a few words about Region 7, which was excellent. Two highlights were a really good turnout from regional utilities and our vendor partners and a thoughtfully developed agenda. The leadership of Michael Silvas, Lamont Hill and Robert Saddler was apparent in their enthusiasm and engagement with the group. One particularly helpful presentation for me was a case study about management of big data — Oncor has partnered with Cisco on this issue and the presentation reviewed their progress. The point that struck home with me is that “management” is the key piece to get right. Basic things like who is in charge of what, which data is being kept where, who are the “need to knows,” etc. are important foundations for ultimately being able to use the data for improving our business processes and ultimately our customers’ experiences. This is just one example of how the sessions at the meetings are relevant to the industry, sometimes in surprising ways. The bottom line…go to the regional meetings!  Your utility colleagues want to help you by sharing their stories.

On a totally different subject, I am continuing my outreach to Members of Congress who sit on the committees of jurisdiction over energy, communications and cybersecurity policy. The meetings have gone very well so far, with a few of these busy people sitting with me for close to an hour. In general, they have been interested in learning more about utilities’ private communications and data networks and the overlap between energy and communications policy. Right now, these two policy matters are overseen and regulated in a very stove-piped manner, at least at the federal level. This circumstance has resulted in issues like spectrum access/cost/management being viewed through the prism of communications policy rather than more broadly through the prism of the needs of all critical infrastructures that underpin our economy and way of life. The bottom line…UTC will contribute greatly to this debate in this new Congress and Administration. Until we meet again…

From Region 7 to Capital Hill

My meeting with Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)