Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer to help ensure hospitals and other critical facilities get power back as soon as possible during an emergency was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
“If any good came out of Hurricane Sandy, it was the lessons we learned in the aftermath as we attempted to resume a sense of normalcy throughout our state,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While hospitals are equipped with back-up generators, they can only last so long, making it imperative that we place a priority on getting these critical facilities back up and running as quickly as possible.”
Specifically, the bill (A-1071) would require the Board of Public Utilities to adopt rules and regulations requiring electric public utility companies to give hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes priority consideration for power restoration after an extended outage following a major event.
“With enough foresight and planning before the next emergency, we can make sure the proper preparations are made to make hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes a priority for power restoration while still ensuring that the general safety of the public is protected,” added Schaer
The bill does, however, note that power restoration efforts to a hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home shall not divert efforts to restore power where needed to otherwise maintain overall public safety.
The bill requires the board to allow a utility to exercise its discretion to prioritize power restoration to any of the above facilities after an extended power outage in accordance with the facilities’ needs and with the characteristics of the geographic area in which power shall be restored.
The measure was approved 6-0 by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.