FCC Rules Against Utilities, Oil Firms in 220 MHz Dispute (9/16/14)
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | Comments

In a long-running hearing proceeding, the FCC released an order last week denying a petition for reconsideration filed by eight electric utilities and oil and gas companies to acquire spectrum from MCLM for critical infrastructure applications.

The petition requested that the FCC remove the applications filed by these entities from the hearing proceeding and grant them. The FCC denied this request and elected only to remove an application filed by a railroad to deploy positive train control (PTC).

The FCC determined that smart grid networks and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems "were not dedicated to communications to prevent human injury and property damage, but are also used for day-to-day facilities management and other purposes that primarily serve the business needs of the licensee."

Under the commission’s secondary markets rules, which authorize the partitioning and disaggregation of spectrum licenses, several CII companies independently negotiated spectrum purchases from MCLM. In April 2011, the FCC released a hearing designation order to investigate whether MCLM misrepresented information to the FCC and consequently received bidding credits in the auction that it wasn’t entitled to receive.

In May 2011, Keller and Heckman filed a petition for reconsideration to have its clients removed from the hearing designation order. Keller and Heckman later filed two requests for expedited action on the petition.

"Now we know what the FCC thinks of electric utilities and oil and gas companies: they're just businesses, apparently in the same boat as pizza delivery trucks,” said Jack Richards, partner at Keller and Heckman, a law firm that represented four energy companies — Atlas Pipeline Mid-Continent, DCP Midstream, Enbridge Energy and EnCana Oil & Gas — and one electric utility — Jackson County Rural Electric Membership — that sought to buy spectrum from MCLM.

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