In order to ensure power is restored in a timely manner to essential healthcare facilities, six Assembly Democrats sponsor legislation that would require the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to adopt rules and regulations to prioritize power restoration during extended outages. The legislation was advanced by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee on Monday.
Under the bill (A-1226) the BPU would have to create regulations that require electric public utility providers to prioritize power restoration to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, renal dialysis facilities and any clinical or research laboratories/institutes that store human blood, tissue or DNA in the event of an extensive outage.
The legislation specifies, however, that utilities must be able to exercise their discretion to make sure the prioritization of these facilities would not divert attention from areas needing power restoration in order to maintain public safety.
Upon the bill’s passage, sponsors Gary Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic), Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson), Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Annette Quijano (D-Union) issued the following joint statement:
“Severe weather events disrupt millions of lives, leaving thousands of homes and businesses in the dark. Already this year, Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to more than 1.4 million buildings, as residents waited up to a week for their power to be restored.
“When these storms sweep through our State, we must have a plan in place to protect the vulnerable and prioritize the locations with the most urgent needs. Hospitals and long-term care facilities rely on electricity for life-saving equipment, while power loss in laboratories could jeopardize valuable specimens used in the development of life-saving treatments.
“Requiring utility companies to prioritize these locations will help to protect the people of New Jersey whenever severe weather occurs.”