Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers are learning from the gas shortage caused by Hurricane Sandy and moving forward with preventative measures.
The recently passed 2013-14 budget includes a funded mandate for gas stations to be pre-wired or equipped with backup emergency generators.
Introduced in December 2012 by state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester), the legislation requires retail gasoline outlets located within a half mile from an exit road on a major highway or an evacuation route to be equipped with backup power generators. The outlets affected are located in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond counties, according to state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing).
“Equipping gas stations with backup power capability will help in easing the minds of all New Yorkers while also taking steps to better prepare for the future,” Stavisky said
According to a state Senate press release, the state Energy Research and Development Authority will provide $10,000 for pre-wiring expenses and an additional $3,000 for a purchase of a generator by April 1, 2014.
ERDA will also establish a pool of generators during emergencies. The stations will pay for deployment and installment and a rental fee.
Last year, gas retailers weren’t pleased with a program that didn’t include funding for the costs involved.
Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said the new manadate has the organization’s support.
“Originally they were pushing to do unfunded generators, that’s why we fought against it from the beginning,” said Beyer. “Anything unfunded pushed upon us would be unfair programming.”
Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica), who was a co-sponsor of the passed bill, said that he was pleased it was apart of Governor Cuomo’s budget.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary because there was a collective conclusion that it was not acceptable to allow this situation to continue. There is a pretty strong consensus that the gas situation doesn’t happen again,” Scarborough said.
Councilman Daniel Halloran (R-Whitestone), who had floated the generator mandate idea last fall, said that the vast majority of motorists and homeowners would appreciate the need for them after what happened with Sandy.
“Not only did it mean not being able to drive our cars, which is a huge consideration in a district without much public transportation, but also many homeowners could not run the home generators they had the foresight to purchase. That left many homes cold and dark, while food spoiled,” Halloran said, speaking before his April 2 arrest on bribery allegations.
According to the state Senate, each existing gas station that’s within a half mile of an exit on a controlled access highway or evacuation route must be pre-wired by April 1, 2014 and must provide the state with documentation showing compliance with the requirements every two years. Stations that sell less than 75,000 gallons per month on average of fuel are exempted from the program.
Gas stations that refuse to comply will be liable for a civil penalty of up to $1,500 per day for every day of such violation.
“We’ll certainly help to alleviate gas lines and shortages in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” said Robert Sinclair, spokesman of the Automobile Club of New York. “At least one major link is taken care of for gasoline retailers who were worried, and they should be ecstatic about it.”