Assembly Approves Democratic Bills to Help Ensure Availability of Generators During Power Outages

Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Joseph Cryan, Ralph Caputo, Shavonda Sumter and Nancy Pinkin sponsored to help ensure the availability of generators during emergencies received approval Monday in the Assembly.

The first bill (A-1338) would create a pilot program to help gas stations install equipment needed to use generators during power outages. Sponsors Quijano, Cryan and Caputo noted that the measure stems from the long gas lines seen throughout New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, some of which were a result of stations lacking the power necessary to pump gas. The bill passed 74-0-2.

“We’ve heard from many gas station owners that they simply don’t have the appropriate equipment and wiring to install generators for use during power outages, so rather than force changes upon them, let’s help them take the steps needed to better serve New Jersey consumers,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Let’s see how these no-interest loans work and whether this will better serve motorists – and our economy. We don’t want a repeat of the post-Sandy lines and confusion.”

“The devastation caused by Sandy drew attention to the importance of emergency response preparedness and its role in effectively evacuating citizens during a natural disaster,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Maintaining electrical power at gas stations along evacuation routes is very essential for the safe and orderly evacuation of residents before or after severe weather, so let’s try this program. If it works, we can extend it statewide.”

“This is a common sense bill,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “We need to do something to help vital facilities such as gas stations provide service during power outages. This is an approach that can work.”

The bill requires the Office of Emergency Management to establish a two-year Motor Fuel Retail Dealer Generator Pilot Program. Under the pilot program, the Office of Emergency Management is required to provide zero-interest loans to retail dealers of motor fuel that are located on or within one-half mile of an evacuation route approved by the office.

The bill establishes that these loans would be made available to assist retail dealers in assuming the cost of a qualified installation project. The bill defines “qualified installation project” as the installation of appropriate wiring, including a transfer switch, capable of providing electrical power to enable the retail dealer’s fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, life-safety systems and payment acceptance equipment when connected to an alternative power generator.

The loans issued under the pilot program are to bear zero interest and have a term that does not exceed 10 years. The bill limits the maximum amount for any single loan to $10,000.

At the conclusion of the “Motor Fuel Retail Dealer Generator Installation Pilot Program,” the Director of the Office of Emergency Management is required to submit a written report to the governor and the legislature.

The report is to include information on the compliance with the program, the number of retail dealers that are participating in the program, the average cost of each individual project, and a recommendation on the feasibility of implementing the initiative on a statewide basis.

The measure now awaits Senate consideration.

The second bill (A-1341), sponsored by Quijano, Sumter and Pinkin, would help ensure that health care facilities may be either equipped with a generator or electrical transfer switch and wiring to which a portable generator can be connected. The measure was approved 74-0-2.

“It’s frightening to think that power outages put health care facilities at risk,” said Quijano (D-Union). “As we take steps to ensure gas stations can be equipped with generators, we must also protect some of our most vulnerable residents by ensuring that these facilities are ready to go should we get hit with more power outages.”

Health care facilities included under the provisions of the bill include: nursing homes, assisted living facilities, comprehensive personal care homes, pediatric community transitional homes, federally qualified health centers, dialysis centers, hospice in-patient cares and residential health care centers connected to another licensed facility.

“These facilities cannot be left in the dark,” said Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen). “They need to be ready, and this is a reasonable requirement.”

“This bill is quite simply the right thing to do,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “It’s a responsible step in the right direction to ensure our most vulnerable residents get the vital protections they need.”

The bill requires the aforementioned facilities to be equipped with a generator or be generator ready within three years of the effective date of the bill.

The bill requires that a generator or generator connection be capable of supporting the following for a minimum of 24 hours:

· critical life support equipment;
· refrigeration for medications;
· lighting for means of egress, exit signs, and exit directional signs;
· emergency lighting in common areas;
· equipment necessary for maintaining back-up communications;
· elevator service if required for the relocation of patients or residents within the facility or evacuation from the facility;
· a fire pump, well pump, or sump pump, if installed;
· a sewerage pump, if installed;
· fire, smoke and other safety detection alarm systems; and
· emergency lighting and power required for the generator at the generator connection point.

The bill also requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to offer financial assistance in the form of low-interest loans to eligible facilities for the purchase and installation of a generator, or to make the facility generator ready.

The authority must begin accepting applications no later than 91 days after the enactment of the bill and must begin approving the applications within a reasonable time thereafter.

The measure, which in June passed 38-1 in the Senate, now heads to the governor’s desk.