AB 2393 added §§ 776, 2872.5 and 2892.1 to the Public Utilities Code.1 A copy is included as Attachment A.
A central battery system was deployed by telecommunications providers in the 1920s to improve network operations, performance and reliability. As a result, batteries and generators located in the provider's central office were able to power both the central office and the customer's telephone in the event of a power outage assuming the telephone system is otherwise intact. The same continues to be true today for customers receiving land line service from a facilities-based provider of telephony services (telephony provider) through copper wires. However, newer communications transmission technologies, including fiber optic and coaxial cable, may require distributed backup power systems, both in the network and at the customer's premise, in order to have this capability.
Section 776 [AB 2393(1)] requires the Commission to consider the need for performance reliability standards, and to develop and implement performance reliability standards for backup power systems installed on the property of residential and small commercial customers by a facilities-based provider of telephony services, if the benefits of the standards exceed the costs. In any event, the Commission must provide a report to the legislature on the results of this investigation by January 1, 2008. Any standards are to include: minimum operating life, minimum time period in which a telephone system with a charged backup power system will provide the customer with sufficient electricity for emergency usage, and a means to warn the customer when the backup system's charge is low or when the system can no longer hold a charge. In developing any such standards, the Commission is to consider current best practices and the technical feasibility of establishing battery backup requirements. We note that AB 2393 and § 776 do not define "small commercial customer." Thus, one of our tasks is to establish a definition.
Automatic dialing-announcing devices are used in emergency notification systems by law enforcement agencies, fire protection agencies, public health agencies, public environmental health agencies, city or county emergency services planning agencies, and private for-profit agencies operating under contract with, and at the direction of, one or more of these agencies. These are automatic devices that store phone numbers and disseminate a prerecorded message to those phone numbers in the event of an emergency.
Section 2872.5 [AB 2393(2)] requires the Commission, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the Department of General Services (DGS), to determine whether standardized notification systems and protocols should be used by entities that are authorized to use automatic dialing devices to facilitate notification of affected members of the public in the event of local emergencies.2 The Commission is not to establish standards for notification systems or protocols unless the benefits of the standards or protocols exceed the costs. The Commission is also required to provide any recommendations it may have for funding notification systems and any statutory modifications needed to facilitate notification of affected members of the public during local emergencies. In any event, the Commission must provide a report to the legislature on the results of this investigation by January 1, 2008.
As noted above, providers of telecommunications service generally install backup power systems on their property so that their systems can operate when the electric utility serving the property has a power outage. The backup power systems are designed to enable the telecommunications networks to function and customers to contact a public safety answering point (PSAP) operator during an electrical outage. These backup power systems are often batteries supplemented by diesel-powered electric generators, which recharge the batteries. In addition to telephony providers' own motivation to ensure network reliability and operational efficiencies, minimizing communications service disruptions is widely beneficial for public safety and economic sustainability.
Section 2892.1 [AB 2393(3)] requires the Commission, in consultation with OES and DGS, to determine the need for such backup power systems not located on the customer's premises and to determine performance criteria. The Commission is also to determine whether the best practices recommended by the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council in December 2005 (Best Practices) for backup power systems have been implemented by providers of telecommunications service.3
If the Commission determines it is in the public interest, it is required to develop performance reliability standards for such backup power systems and implement the standards if the benefits exceed the costs. In developing such standards, the Commission is to consider current best practices and technical feasibility for establishing battery backup requirements.
In addition to the above, the Commission is required to determine the feasibility of the use of zero greenhouse gas emission fuel cell systems to replace diesel generators for such backup power systems.4 In any event, the Commission must provide a report to the legislature on the results of this investigation by January 1, 2008.
Section 2892.1(a) provides that for the purposes of § 2892.1, "telecommunications service" means voice communication provided by a telephone corporation as defined in § 234, voice communications provided by a provider of satellite telephone services, voice communications provided by a provider of mobile telephony service as defined in § 2890.2, and voice communications provided by a facilities-based provider of voice communications utilizing voice over Internet Protocol or any successor protocol.
As noted above, the Commission is required to report to the Legislature on the above results of each investigation before January 1, 2008, and complete this proceeding within 18 months of AB 2393's effective date, i.e., June 30, 2008.
1 All section references are to the Public Utilities Code.
2 Our staff has been in contact with the staff of OES and DGS regarding this rulemaking, and we look forward to their continued participation.
3 Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) VII, Focus Group 1C, "Analysis of the Effectiveness of Best Practices Aimed at E9-1-1 and Public Safety, F Report," December 2005. http:/www.nric.org/meetings/docs/meeting_20051216/FG1C_Dec%2005_Final%20Report.pdf. We note that best practices no. 7-7-5204 on p.59 recommends that backup power systems should be located on site when appropriate.
4 Section 42801.1 of the California Health and Safety Code defines greenhouse gas as including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.