Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Benjie Wimberly, Jerry Green and Carmelo Garcia to ensure that residents of multiple-unit housing facilities have access to power during emergencies was approved 47-20-6 by the full Assembly on Thursday.
The bill (A-864) would require newly-constructed multiple dwellings with 25 or more residential units to install standby generators to provide electricity during an emergency. The generators would be reserved for emergency use when needed to protect the general health, safety and welfare of residents during a continued power outage.
“The loss of electricity during an emergency is far from a mere inconvenience. In high-rise buildings that depend on elevator service as an accessible means of egress, for example, electricity is essential, especially for seniors and residents with disabilities,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “As we continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy, it’s critical that we’re proactive about implementing measures that will ensure public safety.”
“Residents of New Jersey, some of whom went days without electricity after Hurricane Sandy, remain traumatized two years after the storm,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation is an effort to ensure preparedness in anticipation of the next disaster of that magnitude.”
“While there’s no way for us to prevent a natural disaster, there are simple, reasonable actions we can take to minimize stress and suffering for our residents in case of an emergency,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “By ensuring that all tenants have the means to receive communications, stay warm and leave the building if necessary, this bill will help limit the effects of future storms.”
“Hurricane Sandy exposed a number of inadequacies in housing policy that we must work ardently to address,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “Just as we have laws regarding smoke detectors and window guards in apartment buildings, legislation requiring emergency generators will promote public safety.”
Under the bill, the generator must at least have the ability to provide electricity to a common use area for the operation of medical equipment including, but not limited to, portable oxygen units and motorized wheelchairs. The emergency generators would be checked weekly, tested under load monthly and serviced by the manager or operator of the units.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.