RCRC has offered its support for the recently-amended Assembly Bill 2421 authored by Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D- Hayward). AB 2421 would set forth a streamlined local permitting process for siting back-up power generators on macro cellular tower sites through January 1, 2024.

Specifically, AB 2421 provides that siting an emergency standby generator that meets specified standards, proposed at an existing permitted macro cell tower site, is subject only to a ministerial permitting process. Additionally, a local agency that receives a permit application to install an emergency standby generator is required to approve or deny the application with 60 days of submittal of the application, or the application will be deemed approved.

The unprecedented number of public safety power shut off (PSPS) events in the 2019 wildfire season brought to the forefront the systemic infrastructure weaknesses that exist in both the electricity grid, and the telecommunication systems. Many communities, especially those in rural fire-prone areas, were left without a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency. RCRC believes the streamlined local permitting process will help telecommunication providers effectively and expeditiously deploy back-up power generation to cell towers to mitigate loss of wireless communication services during a power outage.

The recent amendment, suggested by RCRC and accepted by the author, would explicitly require, as a condition of permit approval, that a project must comply with all applicable laws. As amended, AB 2421 would maintain the ability of local governments to protect its residents by only approving projects that meet applicable health and safety standards. RCRC’s letter can be accessed here. For more information, please contact Tracy Rhine, RCRC Legislative Advocate, at (916) 447-4806 or trhine@rcrcnet.org.