In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Assembly Democrats Joseph Cryan, Annette Quijano and Jason O’Donnell have introduced legislation to better equip municipalities to deal with utility-related emergencies.
“Knowledge of the local utility infrastructure would be extremely helpful in time-sensitive emergency situations, especially where access is limited,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Sandy produced a number of situations where prior knowledge of utility infrastructure would have been crucially helpful, such as the fire caused by the gas pipeline at Camp Osborne in Brick where over 100 homes burned down during the height of the storm.”
Specifically, the bill (A-3521) would require each electric and gas public utility to file, with emergency management personnel in each municipality within its service territory, maps and information concerning the utility’s infrastructure located within the municipality.
“If municipalities have a thorough understanding of the lay of the land in terms of utility infrastructure, they will be better equipped to protect the public, especially if an evacuation is necessary,” said Quijano (D-Union), who chairs the Assembly’s Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. “Moving forward, this could be a crucial component of emergency preparedness.”
Each electric public utility would be required to file its electric circuit map and other information concerning the location of its distribution infrastructure within the municipality. Each gas public utility would be required to file a map depicting the route and location of its gas pipelines within that municipality, and other information, concerning the location of its natural gas distribution system within the municipality.
“Monitoring substations, avoiding the dangers of gas leaks, all of these situations would be better handled if local emergency management personnel had a thorough understanding of where these sources are located,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson). “This is a common sense measure to help protect the safety of our residents, as well as emergency personnel on the front lines during storms.”
The maps and information must be provided in a format that may be reasonably understood by a person who does not possess special knowledge concerning electric distribution, natural gas distribution systems, or the electric or gas public utility industry.
The maps and information must be filled within 90 days of the bill’s effective date and each calendar year thereafter. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.