UPDATE On Monday, a key Assembly Committee approved SB 431 to provide backup power during public safety shutdowns. The shutdowns aim to minimize fire risks, and the backup power will enable people to retain cell phone use amid any blackouts. East County Today reported the bill requires 72 hours of backup power, so that cell towers continue to function during power outages.
“Wildfires and power shutoff events are occurring with greater frequency, and they’re putting many more people and communities at high risk,” said Senator Steve Glazer, co-author of the legislation. “This bill will keep the critical wireless communication link working.”
Senator Mike McGuire, also a co-author of SB 431, added, “In an emergency, our phones are our lifeline. It’s how we contact emergency responders, receive emergency alerts, and check on our loved ones. Telecommunications companies assured us that their cell towers would stay up and running, and we would be able to use our phones even during Power Shutoff events – last year showed us that this was not true.”
During power outages in October 2019, nearly 2 million Northern California residents had their landline, cell phone and cable service interrupted. Over 800 cell towers across the state went dark, and more than 454,000 cable and wireline subscribers were out of service, reported East County Today.
The bill, approved by the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee, now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If passed, the bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to develop and implement performance reliability standards for backup power systems, reported East County Today.
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