(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Joseph Cryan sponsored to create a pilot program to help motor fuel dealers install equipment needed to use generators during power outages was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
The bill (A-3930) stems from the long gas lines seen throughout New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, some of which were caused by gas stations that lacked power to pump gas.
“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.”
Earlier this year, the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee chaired by Quijano heard testimony from fuel retailers on how best to provide power during emergencies.
Under the legislation, the state Office of Emergency Management would establish a two-year pilot program providing no-interest loans to gas stations located on or with a half-mile of an evacuation route approved by the office.
The no-interest loans would be used to help the fuel dealers pay the cost of installing appropriate wiring, including a transfer switch, capable of providing electrical power to enable the station’s fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, safety systems and payment acceptance equipment when connected to an alternative power generator.
The loans would bear zero interest and have a term that does not exceed 10 years. Loans could not exceed $10,000.
The source of funding for the loans shall be from the 9-1-1 System and Emergency Response Trust Fund Account.
At the conclusion of the pilot program, the Office of Emergency Management would be required to submit a written report to the governor and the Legislature, including information on the compliance with the program, the number of retail dealers participating in the program, the average cost of each individual project and the feasibility of implementing it on a statewide basis.
The bill was approved 77-0-1 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.