Eustace Bill to Ensure Certain Facilities Used as Shelters Keep Power during State of Emergencies Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic) that would ensure certain facilities used as shelters during or after a declared state of emergency are able to receive electric power without disruption was released Monday by an Assembly committee.

“Time is of the essence during an emergency. There is no need for bureaucratic hurdles when the safety and well-being of residents are at risk,” said Eustace. “This bill would help ease and eliminate potential obstruction of the transition of electric power during a state or federally declared state of emergency, to a facility that is providing emergency shelter during that time. Hurricane Sandy showed us how vulnerable we are when disaster strikes. We must ensure that any efforts to assist residents during a time of emergency are carried out as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.”

Under the bill (A-4091), if the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) determines, in consultation with the applicable local emergency management office, that an on-site generation facility or an off-site end use thermal energy service customer will operate as a public shelter during or after a state or federally-declared state of emergency or disaster, then electric power from such a facility may be delivered to such a customer without using the existing locally franchised electric public utility’s distribution infrastructure. The service would be delivered at a rate determined by the BPU.

An off-site end-use thermal energy services customer refers to an end user that purchases thermal energy services from an on-site generation facility that is not located on the same property as the end user.

An on-site generation facility refers to a facility that produces renewable energy, and equipment and services relevant to electric sales to an end user located on the property or on property contiguous to the property where the end user is located. An on-site generation facility is not considered a public utility.

Under the bill, the off-site customer may only bypass the utility distribution system for the duration of the declared state of emergency or disaster.
All applicable fees, including the societal benefits charge, the market transition charge, and the transition bond charge, are to be included in the rate determined by the board.

The bill was released on Nov. 9 by the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.