Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary S. Schaer, Angelica Jimenez and Benjie Wimberly to help ensure hospitals and other critical healthcare facilities get power back as soon as possible during an emergency was approved 78-0 by the full Assembly panel on Monday.
“If any good came out of Hurricane Sandy, it was the lessons we learned in the aftermath as we attempted to resume a sense of normalcy throughout our state,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While hospitals are equipped with back-up generators, they can only last so long, making it imperative that we place a priority on getting these critical facilities back up and running as quickly as possible.”
Specifically, the bill (A-1071) would require the Board of Public Utilities to adopt rules and regulations requiring electric public utility companies to give hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, chronic or acute renal dialysis facilities and research laboratories or institutes that store human blood or human DNA priority consideration for power restoration after an extended outage following a major event.
The bill does, however, note that power restoration efforts to any of these facilities shall not divert efforts to restore power where needed to otherwise maintain overall public safety.
“Hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes should be a priority for power restoration. With the proper foresight and planning before the next emergency, we can make this possible while still protecting the general safety of the public,” said Jimenez (D- Bergen/Hudson).
“Facilities that house the critically ill and those with sensitive health needs must be made a priority during prolonged power outages,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Someone who relies on oxygen support or blood transfusions or dialysis, simply cannot go days without power. It’s as simple as that.”
The bill requires the board to allow a utility to exercise its discretion to prioritize power restoration to any of the above facilities after an extended power outage in accordance with the facilities’ needs and with the characteristics of the geographic area in which power shall be restored.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.