On Monday, RCRC submitted formal comments to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in the Emergency Disaster Relief Program Proceeding, which is currently focused on customer protections for communication services during disasters, such as having access to 9-1-1 and receiving emergency notifications during Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS). The CPUC is now seeking input on system planning and resiliency rules for wireline telecommunications providers. This builds upon a CPUC decision issued last month that requires wireless communications providers to develop and submit emergency operations plans, maintain 72-hours of backup power at their facilities, and ensure minimum levels of service during a disaster event. Considering that many rural communities have limited wireless access and rely solely or predominantly on wireline communications systems, RCRC’s urged the CPUC to adopt consistent, and no less robust, resiliency requirements for wireline providers as currently apply to wireless systems.

Specifically, RCRC requested: 1) no less than 72 hours of backup power generation at wireline facilities; 2) expansion of these requirements to those communications facilities that lost power two or more times during last year’s PSPS events; 3) creation of minimum service levels (including 9-1-1 and emergency alerts); and 4) requiring wireline providers to submit emergency operations plans to state and local agencies.

The CPUC is expected to make a final decision on wireline resiliency requirements in the coming months. RCRC strongly cautioned against adopting a Wireline Provider Proposal that would only maintain service for a small subset of critical facilities and that did not include any requirements to ensure system reliability for residential customers.