Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 13:45

(TNS) - Last month’s power shutdowns by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. left nagging questions about Marin County’s communications system and whether senior housing facilities in the county are prepared for the next shutdown.

On Oct. 27, when PG&E switched off electricity to most of Marin, nearly 50 percent of the county’s cell phone transmission sites failed. The next day 57 percent of the cell sites, 134 transmitters, were down in Marin, and the day after that more than 35 percent of the sites remained offline. No other county in the state had its communications system disrupted to this extent by the power outage.

Marin County Administrator Matthew Hymel said there is a simple explanation for this; PG&E’s power shutdown was much more extensive in Marin than in other counties.

“Marin was the only county that was nealry 100 percent shut down,” Hymel said. “I think that is why we led on the cell phone issue.”

Neither the state nor federal government currently requires telecommunications companies to ensure that their transmission sites remain functional during power outages. Backup power at some sites depends on batteries that last only a few hours while other sites are equipped with generators and enough fuel to operate for days.

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