Backup generators should be required countywide

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We applaud the town for stepping up and acting in its residents’ best interests. They should not have to endure another extended gasoline outage. We believe, however, that the town’s measure is only a start. There should be a countywide ordinance applying to all Nassau gasoline retailers. According to county officials, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency is offering tax exemptions and other cost reductions to retailers that install generators, but the county is not, as yet, requiring stations to have them. That’s not good enough. Even with incentives, many retailers may not bother to buy generators, arguing that they are cost-prohibitive.

According to the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, a generator large enough to power a gas station can cost $30,000 to $40,000. That cost, association officials say, must be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.

No one wants to see prices go up, but a small increase would be well worth it to ensure safety and security in the event of a disaster. We shouldn’t need to post police officers at every open gas station to keep the peace. After a storm like Sandy, the police are needed in countless more-productive ways.

The State Legislature should also consider requiring gas stations to have generators. In November, only weeks after the storm, State Sen. David Carlucci, a Democrat from Rockland County, introduced legislation that would do just that. Carlucci’s plan deserves serious consideration, in part because it would require not only gas stations, but also the port terminals to which gasoline is shipped, to have generators.

Gasoline retail associations strongly oppose the Town of Hempstead’s law. An alternate solution, suggested by LIGRA, would prioritize the restoration of power to service stations on busy thoroughfares during power outages. But Long Islanders have learned the hard way about the naïveté of depending on power companies like the Long Island Power Authority in the wake of a catastrophic storm.
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