Super Kickoff to the UTC Winter/Spring Meetings
It is February 8, and I am on the plane heading back to D.C. from Reno via Dallas. Reno, Nevada has been home to the (in)famous Utilities Telecom Forum (UTC Regions 8, 9, 10 combined) meeting for lo these many years. It was my first time at the event and my first time staying in Reno. I had flown into the airport before and driven from there to the nearby Lake Tahoe, but that doesn’t count. No offense to Vegas, but if you like to gamble, Reno is a much prettier place to do it. Below is one of the pictures I took of the view from my room — hopefully, you can see the snow-capped mountains in the background.
The officers of Regions 8, 9, and 10 — Robert Smith, Ethan Angele, and Lee Onsager, worked with UTC Staff Karnel Thomas, Kelly Moran, and Cheryl Stratos to put on an excellent program and vendor show. The program included utility case studies, vendor presentations, and UTC staff subject matter expert overviews on the latest spectrum availability, managing the IP transition, IT/OT convergence, and cybersecurity, among others. Given the combined nature of the meeting, attendance was robust and there was a good mix of utility folks and vendor representatives with ample time for networking. A utility round-table capped off the event and highlighted emerging issues like drone usage and wireless antenna attachments above the electric space.
And, importantly, the event kicked off with the annual Super Bowl viewing party on Sunday. As pictured, the event took place in a huge ballroom surrounded by big-screens. Each participant got a raffle ticket, a baseball cap, drink tickets, and his or her pick from a buffet of ‘football-watching food.’ Most folks in the room, including me, were clearly rooting for the underdogs, the Atlanta Falcons. My decision was solely based on the team’s underdog status, and my guess is a good number of others made their decision the same way. And, after the first half, I was lamenting the fact that I missed the chance to place a quick $20 bet on the Falcons before the game started. Alas, as anyone reading this either saw or now knows, the tide turned big time in the second half and we all sat glued to our seats while the Patriots came back to win. Only a few people noticed the cops (and fire department!) show up at the entrance to haul off two unruly couples who perhaps had one too many and gotten into a bit of an altercation. Talk about Reno 911! Neither couple was with the UTC group, of course, but it makes for a good story.
The bottom line is, if you are in the West, the Utilities Telecom Forum (Regions 8, 9, 10 combined) meeting is a must — and even though you never know what might happen, I guarantee you will learn something, meet new people who can help you in your work, and absolutely, positively, have a good time.
Until we meet again, or I see you at Region 7 in San Antonio…