U.S. Secretary of Labor Visits DPC | Midwest at “Elevated Risk” of Energy Shortfall | FTC, WI Sue Frontier | $3.2B Available to Help Pay Internet Bills | UW Research Center Could Bolster EV Industry | NRECA Awarded $3.9M in Cybersecurity Funds


U.S. Secretary of Labor Visits Dairyland Power Cooperative

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited Dairyland Power Cooperative recently, promoting the president’s “American Jobs Plan” proposal.

“This bill creates good union jobs, and good green jobs, and jobs for a lot of other people,” Walsh told the group, which included Congressman Ron Kind, State Representative Jill Billings, La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds, WECA President and CEO Stephen Freese, Dairyland President and CEO Brent Ridge, and Dairyland leadership, electrical maintenance, and transmission construction/maintenance field crew members.

Walsh commended Dairyland for its innovative approach to training, including programs offered to assist workers displaced by the shuttering of the Genoa Station #3 coal plant.

NERC Report: Midwest at “Elevated Risk” of Energy Shortfall this Summer

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) 2021 Summer Reliability Assessment identifies regions of the country that could be at risk of energy shortfalls if we experience extreme heat this summer, including parts of the Midwest. In addition, California, Texas, and New England could also face shortages.

The report says the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region, which includes Wisconsin, has adequate resources to meet peak demand but is likely to exceed capacity resources under the 90/10 forecast, which means extreme heat experienced “once in ten years.” This scenario would require energy transfers from surrounding areas to meet demand.

According to the report, California is the only area identified at “high risk” of energy shortage.

FTC, Wisconsin Sue Frontier for Failed Broadband Promises

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and six states, including Wisconsin, are suing Frontier Communications for not delivering the internet speeds it promised customers and overcharging for subpar service. According to the complaint, Frontier is providing DSL service (phone line) to 1.3 million people in 25 states, mostly in rural areas, which does not provide the speeds necessary for today’s internet uses.

Joining Wisconsin in the lawsuit are Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and California.

Frontier has already settled similar cases in other states, including West Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, and Minnesota.

Frontier filed for bankruptcy in April 2020 and emerged with $11 billion less in debt. The company says the lawsuit is without merit.

Line 5 Dispute Strains Relations with Canada

Canada has filed an amicus brief in the dispute over the future of Enbridge’s Line 5, warning of damage to the relationship with the United States and the risk of undermining the future credibility of American foreign-policy decisions.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the line shut down as of May 12, citing environmental concerns. Enbridge has declined to comply with the order. Canada argues the future of the line should be negotiated by both countries under the terms of a 1977 treaty that specifically governs pipelines that cross the border.

The line serves Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as well as Canada and has been in service since 1953. Enbridge is in the process of building a new $500-million tunnel beneath the straits that would house the line’s twin pipes and protect them from anchor strikes, but that project will not be in operation
until 2024.

$3.2 Billion in Assistance is Available to Help Pay Internet Bills

The new Emergency Broadband Benefit, administered through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is now available for people who are struggling to pay for internet service. Those who qualify are eligible to save $50 per month ($75 for those in tribal areas), as well as a one-time $100 payment toward a tablet, or laptop, or desktop computer, to connect to the internet. Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission (PSC) says a half-million Wisconsinites fit the criteria to receive the assistance.

To see if you are eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, go to www.getemergencybroadband.org.

UW-Madison Research Center Could Bolster EV Industry

UW-Madison is working with the California startup company Canoo to create an electric propulsion research center on campus. The goal is to boost the nation’s EV industry and make U.S. manufacturers more competitive.

Canoo chairman and CEO Tony Aquila said, “We are committed to our first research center with UW-Madison to drive groundbreaking advances in electric vehicles—advances that enable us to execute on our mission to bring EVs to everyone.”

The College of Engineering will lead the effort, which is also intended to create internships and other opportunities for students.

NRECA Awarded $3.9 Million in Cybersecurity Funds

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has been awarded $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to expand a pilot cybersecurity partnership dedicated to information sharing.

With the new funding, NRECA will work to advance the information and operational technology sensor platform in the “Essence” program over the next two years to make it capable of detecting industrial control system anomalies and threats precisely and quickly.

Essence will be the first system to connect to the federal government’s Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP), which uses DOE resources to assess and distribute actionable threat information to the energy sector.