(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Ralph Caputo sponsored to help ensure the availability of generators during emergencies cleared a Senate panel on Thursday.
The first bill (A-1338) would create a pilot program to help gas stations install equipment needed to use generators during power outages. Sponsors Quijano and Caputo noted that the measure stems from the long gas lines seen throughout New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, some of which were a result of stations lacking the power necessary 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 bill requires the Office of Emergency Management to establish a two-year Motor Fuel Retail Dealer Generator Pilot Program. Under the pilot program, the Office of Emergency Management is required to provide zero-interest loans to retail dealers of motor fuel that are located on or within one-half mile of an evacuation route approved by the office.
“This is a common sense bill,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “We need to do something to help vital facilities such as gas stations provide service during power outages. This is an approach that can work.”
The bill establishes that these loans would be made available to assist retail dealers in assuming the cost of a qualified installation project. The bill defines “qualified installation project” as the installation of appropriate wiring, including a transfer switch, capable of providing electrical power to enable the retail dealer’s fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, life-safety systems and payment acceptance equipment when connected to an alternative power generator.
The loans issued under the pilot program are to bear zero interest and have a term that does not exceed 10 years. The bill limits the maximum amount for any single loan to $10,000.
At the conclusion of the “Motor Fuel Retail Dealer Generator Installation Pilot Program,” the Director of the Office of Emergency Management is required to submit a written report to the governor and the legislature.
The report is to include information on the compliance with the program, the number of retail dealers that are participating in the program, the average cost of each individual project, and a recommendation on the feasibility of implementing the initiative on a statewide basis.
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to release the measure. The bill passed the Assembly on December 15, 74-0-2.